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Presidents and Congress, Republicans and Democrats: Spending, Taxation, Debt, and GDP

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swag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-10-10 04:39 PM
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Presidents and Congress, Republicans and Democrats: Spending, Taxation, Debt, and GDP

by Steve Roth, asymptosis
Cross-posted at Asymptosis.

Thanks to yeoman's work by Larry Bartels, Mike Kimel, and a host of others, we've seen that over many decades, the American economy has performed far better, by almost any measure, under Democratic presidents. Larry Bartels' key graph mapping income growth by quintile, 1948-2005 (from page 33 of Unequal Democracy) is perhaps the best demonstration of that. Even the rich get richer, faster, under Democratic presidents.

The poor and the middle class get far richer: All those findings came as a surprise to me when I first saw the data. I'd pretty much accepted the Republican "party of growth" party line, after hearing it repeated thousands of times over several decades.

It turns out that at least for American presidents, it just isn't true. Not even close. Even though the data's been sliced, diced, and analyzed every which way from Sunday, with consistent results, critics still try to second-guess it. Many or most of these objections are spurious -- statistically illiterate, logically flawed, or just plain self-contradictory special pleading. But at least one repeated question does bear examination: What about Congress? Don't they supposedly control the purse-strings?

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