RE: Clinton/Gore's economic track-record

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From: Jim Whitehead (
Date: Mon Oct 09 2000 - 14:22:48 PDT

Again, my point is that the Executive branch has very little control over
the economy, and, except in rare cases (Roosevelt, Nixon), does not affect
it much.

> Let's get a few misconceptions out of the way, shall we?

I've never witnessed such a rapid creation and destruction of strawmen.

> Marginal Tax Rates and the Growth of AGI and Tax Paid by High Income Tax
> Payers
> Real AGI (in Billions) Real Income Tax Paid (in Billions)
> Fiscal
> Year Top 1% Top 5% Top 1% Top 5%
> 1980 $253.3 584.3 82.5 158.6
> 1981 233.5 584.3 79.8 157.6
> 1985 310.2 701.0 95.7 168.7
> 1986 365.6 773.7 121.1 200.3
> 1990 520.2 1026.2 120.9 210.0
> 1991 471.4 974.7 114.7 201.7
> 1994 520.2 1049.3 146.7 242.0

During this time period we also witnessed a widening between the rich and
the poor in the US. These figures are consistent with that. The rich got
richer, and hence still paid more taxes. Is wealth inequality something to
be proud of?

> "The Poor Gets Poorer In America Under Reagan/Bush".

No, the poor have gotten relatively poorer under every President since
Carter, and this includes Clinton.

> Yet another statistical error that the left propagate is the
> whole matter of inequality. Let's use an simple example of five people
> who makes $100,000 a year. *snip*

I have a better idea. Let's consider the people who cannot afford housing,
and who are hungry. Yes, finally, after many years of strong economic
performance in the US, poverty in this country does seem to be abating.
Slightly. But it is an abomination that we still have hungry and homeless
people who wish to be otherwise. If they're moving up, great. But why is
this problem there at all? The resources of this country are
incomprehensibly vast; it is just a lack of willpower and focus that allows
these problems to persist.

My limited understanding of economics tells me that the reason the economy
is doing so well today is because the US has been experiencing an unusually
long period of productivity growth. From what I read, there is still a
significant lack of understanding among economists concerning the root
causes of this productivity growth. Since the causes of the productivity
growth are still mysterious, how can we conclusively attribute the economic
boom to Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Carter, or any other President?

Again, I will assert that the Federal Reserve, a non-partisan institution,
has had far greater impact on the economy over the past 20 years than either
the Executive or Legislative branches. As a result, I tend not to focus too
heavily on economic issues in elections, and instead focus on their
environmental records, and their intentions for foreign policy, areas where
the Executive does have significant power.

- Jim

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