In This New Age Of Globalization, Democrats Have Produced Prosperity, The GOP Decline

Earlier this week, Bloomberg News published a new analysis of America’s economic performance under the past seven Presidents. The report ranks the economic progress made during each Presidential term since 1977 based upon 14 gauges of economic and financial activity, from wage growth to job gains to economic growth. On aggregate, Clinton and Obama take the top two spots, followed by Reagan and H.W. Bush in third and fourth, with Carter, Trump, and W. Bush coming in fifth, sixth, and seventh. Perhaps most importantly, this ranking shows the deep discrepancy in economic performance between the two parties. The last two Republican Presidents have overseen the two worst economies since 1977, while the last two Democratic Presidents have managed the two best economies. In this new age of globalization since the end of the Cold War in 1989, the two Democrats (Clinton and Obama) rank one and two, while the three Republicans (H.W. Bush, Trump, and W. Bush) rank three, four, and five. For all his bluster about “the best economy ever,” Trump ranks second-to-last behind even Jimmy Carter, and ranks above average among the seven Presidents on only 2 of the 14 metrics.

Source: Bloomberg

This study is consistent with the big argument that NDN has been making through our Patriotism and Optimism Project that the two parties’ recent performances while in the White House are not symmetrical, particularly on economic issues. While Trump’s central argument about the economy has been that this new age of globalization has failed to deliver economic prosperity to most Americans, regardless of which party has been in power, it is actually the case that Democrats have made the new global economy work for everyday Americans, while Republicans have failed to do so. Since 1989, the two Democratic Presidents (Clinton and Obama) have overseen strong and inclusive economic growth, while the three Republican Presidents (H.W. Bush, W. Bush, and Trump) have seen economic under-performance and even recession and decline. Rather than broad economic trends, it is the wide difference in economic management between the two parties that has shaped America’s economic fortunes.

Aggregate data that NDN has compiled for our Patriotism and Optimism Project confirm the startling asymmetry between the two parties on the economy. On job growth, Clinton and Obama have overseen almost 4 times the yearly gains as H.W. Bush, W. Bush, and Trump (averaging an increase of 2.13 million jobs per year compared to only 0.63 million jobs per year for the three Republicans). In total, the two Democrats oversaw an increase of 34 million jobs during their tenure, while the three Republicans saw only 9 million new jobs.

Source: BLS
Source: BLS

On median income growth, meanwhile, Clinton and Obama averaged growth of 1.2% per year, whereas the three Republicans averaged a decline of 0.4% per year.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Similarly, the stock market has significantly under-performed while Republicans have been in the White House relative to its gains under Democratic Presidents. The S&P 500 index has averaged a 2.5% annual increase under the three Republican presidents, while it has averaged annual gains of 14.9% under Clinton and Obama.

Source: Yahoo Finance

Even worse, key metrics of the living standards of the poorest Americans have deteriorated under the Republican Presidents, while they have improved under Democrats. First, the percentage of the non-elderly population without health insurance increased by an annual average of 0.15 percentage points under H.W. Bush, W. Bush, and Trump. By contrast, it fell by an annual average of 0.44 percentage points under Clinton and Obama.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Second, the Census Bureau developed a new metric of more accurately measuring poverty in 2012 called the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which includes both market income and government taxes/transfers. Using this measure, the poverty rate fell by an annual average of 0.38 percentage points under Clinton and Obama, while it actually rose by an annual average of 0.15 percentage points under the three Republican Presidents.

Source: Census Bureau

All the more alarming is that even though the Republican Presidents achieved poor jobs, income, and stock market growth during their tenures, they did so while also increasing the budget deficit significantly more than the Democratic Presidents. H.W. Bush, W. Bush, and Trump increased the deficit by an average of 0.5% of GDP per year, whereas Clinton and Obama reduced the deficit by an average of 0.4% of GDP per year. As can be seen, the difference in economic performance between Democrats and Republicans has been stark and significant.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Looking over the data, it is clear that the Democrats have been the party of economic progress and fiscal sustainability, whereas the Republicans have boosted deficits while achieving poor job and income growth. It is unsurprising, then, that the two generations that have grown up since 1989 (Millennials and Gen Z) are strikingly Democratic-leaning. In the 2018 midterms, voters under age 29 supported Democrats by a 35-point margin, and voters under 45 by a 25-point margin. For these voters, who will soon make up the majority of the electorate, America has succeeded both economically and socially under two successful Democratic Presidents, whereas Republicans have had three consecutive failed Presidents.