Another good Brownstein piece on the failure of Bush’s economic policies:
On every major measurement, the Census Bureau report shows that the country lost ground during Bush’s two terms. While Bush was in office, the median household income declined, poverty increased, childhood poverty increased even more, and the number of Americans without health insurance spiked. By contrast, the country’s condition improved on each of those measures during Bill Clinton’s two terms, often substantially.[…..]
That leaves Bush with the dubious distinction of becoming the only president in recent history to preside over an income decline through two presidential terms, notes Lawrence Mishel, president of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. The median household income increased during the two terms of Clinton (by 14 per cent, as we’ll see in more detail below), Ronald Reagan (8.1 per cent), and Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford (3.9 per cent). As Mishel notes, although the global recession decidedly deepened the hole-the percentage decline in the median income from 2007 to 2008 is the largest single year fall on record-average families were already worse off in 2007 than they were in 2000, a remarkable result through an entire business expansion. “What is phenomenal about the years under Bush is that through the entire business cycle from 2000 through 2007, even before this recession…working families were worse off at the end of the recovery, in the best of times during that period, than they were in 2000 before he took office,” Mishel says.
The piece goes on to detail just how dramatically important economic measures improved under Clinton.
One thing I wonder here is to what extent it makes sense to view this in Republican versus Democratic terms. Clinton’s economic policies — particularly when it comes to taxes — were in some sense a continuation of Bush I’s. The same is broadly true in foreign policy (both were committed multilateralists).
I tend to agree Glenn and others when they say that Republicans were just as crazy about attacking Clinton as they are about attacking Obama and that the teabaggers are just John Birch 2, Electric Boogaloo. And it’s also possible that, as Krugman asserts, Reagan would have gone just as nuts as Bush did if Republicans had controlled both houses of Congress during his presidency (though I’m not sure I believe this).
But in terms of actually implementing poor policy, wrecking finances of average Americans, racking up trillions dollars of debt during an expansion, and decimating our military and international prestige, Bush II was something new under the sun.