The dismal economic legacy of Republican presidents

Posted: June 15, 2015 by watsonthethird in 2016 Presidential Campaign, Conservative Hypocrisy, Economics, Politics
Tags: , , ,

So you’re at the gym and you run into the local former Naval intelligence analyst–you know, the guy who never fails to remind you that he was an intelligence analyst because it makes it him sound both intelligent and capable of thoughtful analysis. In the course of the conversation, you mention that you recently read an article explaining that since 1900 unemployment has been much worse, on average, during Republican administrations than Democratic ones; and that more recessions have started under Republicans than Democrats.

This causes the intelligence analyst to go silent for a few seconds, eyes blinking, until he utters his favorite one-word response when confronted with facts for which he has no counter. “Bullshit,” he says, expecting (hoping) that this will put an end to the conversation and you will go away.

Ah, but this time you pull out your iPad and point out the interesting passages from the article (highlighted in bold below), which is based on research conducted by Dr. James Gilligan in the course of writing his book, Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others. His book shows that the rate of lethal violence rises under Republican presidents and falls just as consistently under Democrats. What might explain this correlation? “According to Gilligan, criminologists and public health experts have long been aware of another striking set of data that reliably parallels increases in murder and suicide when traced over the past hundred years: the rate of unemployment.”

Noting the apparent congruence between unemployment, economic inequality and recession across one dimension, and lethal violence across another, Gilligan put together his own statistical picture of economic conditions under American presidents since 1900, using data compiled by both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Bureau of Economic Research. He saw what other academics and journalists have remarked upon from time to time (including me, in a 2003 book titled Big Lies) — namely that unemployment rates have gone up during every Republican administration and gone down during every Democratic administration, without exception. Every time a Republican president left the White House, unemployment was higher than when he came in, while the opposite was true whenever a Democratic president completed his term. Rates of unemployment stayed higher for longer periods under Republicans too.

Then he did some simple addition: “If we count up the net sum of all the increases that occurred during Republican administrations from 1900 through 2008, we find that the Republicans brought about a cumulative increase of 27.8 percent in the unemployment rate, and the Democrats an almost exactly equal decrease of 26.5 percent.” The net cumulative difference in the partisan effects was a staggering 53.8 percent. He also calculated the cumulative difference in duration of unemployment among the jobless during Republican and Democratic administrations, and again the numbers are enormous. From 1948 to 2003, Republicans oversaw a net cumulative increase of 24.6 weeks of unemployment, while Democrats oversaw a net decrease of 13.6 weeks — a difference of 38.2 weeks, or almost ten months.

Why is the unemployment record of the Republicans so awful? When Gilligan looked up the tabulations of expansion and recession tabulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research — an organization that was headed for many years, as he notes, by the conservative economist Martin Feldstein — he found a simple answer. The NBER numbers show that “from 1900 through October 2010, the country suffered approximately three times as many months of recession during the times Republicans were governing the country as during the times Democrats were: 246 months (more than 20 years) compared with 86 — a discrepancy that could not have happened by chance more than one time out of 10,000.” Moreover, recessions began 17 times during Republican presidencies and only six times during Democratic presidencies, and always lasted several months longer under Republicans as well.

Now, you explain to the intelligence analyst that you don’t actually subscribe to the notion that presidents have direct control over the economy, but the correlation, over the course of more than a century, seems greater than could be explained by chance. And besides, conservatives are always–always–yammering on about how Democrats are terrible for the economy and Republicans are great, so you found this information curious. The intelligence analyst blinks a few more times, mutters “Bullshit,” and walks away. Yup, the conversation is over.

  1. rustybrown2014 says:

    Great post Watson. I’m always leery about correlation equals causation arguments, but the evidence here seems so overwhelming I think it rests on Republicans to explain it.

    In other news, sorry to seem obsessive, but I just have to answer Mark’s latest query to me posted when the coast was clear for him, after I had been banned:

    “I’ll revise and extend my remarks – strike (Genesis is) “completely in accord” (with established science) and substitute, “does not fundamentally contradict”.

    Feel better?

    Now, as for your other two defeats – settled science “proved” that racism is true and that eugenics were the way to go. They weren’t – and it was stodgy, old Christians who said so all along.”

    Does not fundamentally contradict? I’d just shown how Genesis has plant life on land occurring before sea life and before the SUN. Seems like fundamental contradictions to me.

    As for the rest of it, racism and eugenics were never “settled science”. Never. I’d explained this to him twice before but as we know not much penetrates the thick skulls at bfv.

  2. casper says:

    Nice job Watson, although the information is hardly surprising. Republican economic policies just don’t work and this is more proof.

  3. 02casper says:

    Anyone following Mark’s defense of the Pope on B4V? Ama’s head is exploding over the Pope taking a position she disagrees with.
    Her final point: “My opinion of Pope Francis is changing from one of respect for him to thinking of him as a slightly dotty and easily led seeker of a reputation which goes far beyond that of leader of the Church.”

    I gues no one is as smart as she thinks she is.

  4. meursault1942 says:

    Nice job. Of course, the conservative economic legacy doesn’t get any better at the state level, either, as shown by the generational poverty of red states, the fact that so many red states are tax moochers, etc. Sam Brownback* is the current poster child for the abject failure of conservative economics, but Bobby Jindal has made himself into quite the pathetic joke as well.

    *As always, let’s remember Noonan’s prediction that Brownback would create an “unanswerable argument” in favor of conservative economics. Whoopsie-daisy!

    • meursault1942 says:

      Oh, and speaking of Brownback, LGM has a post about how even the National freakin’ Review is being forced to tap dance around his horrendous failure in light of its “supply side cannot fail, it can only be failed” ethos.

      If only conservatives weren’t so terrified of reality….

  5. casper says:

    “*As always, let’s remember Noonan’s prediction that Brownback would create an “unanswerable argument” in favor of conservative economics. Whoopsie-daisy!”
    Which is why we aren’t allowed to post on B4V. They can’t defend their party anymore. Their policies don’t work. And when they don’t work they blame Liberals or Big government.

    • rustybrown2014 says:

      Well remember, as I’ve just shown, we’re talking about people who argue against the reality of photosynthesis, so I wouldn’t expect much regarding their political insights.

  6. casper says:

    Just curious bout how the rest of you feel about Bernie Sanders? I love his positions and so do most other Americans.

  7. rustybrown2014 says:

    Great news for the ACA. Obama’s successful reform keeps rolling along for now. But upon reading Scalia’s hysterical dissent we’re given more evidence that he’s a partisan lunatic unfit to serve on the bench. He can’t be gone soon enough; I hope he smokes.

  8. just because i am an a-hole- how funny is it that bristol Palin is pregnant again out of wedlock. Great values these palin’s have and after making millions by telling girls to be pure.

    • rustybrown2014 says:

      Paid abstinence spokeswomen, second out of wedlock pregnancy. Haw! Remember when all the right wing rubes were smitten with these craven grifters? You can fool some of the people all of the time…

    • meursault1942 says:

      It is funny, but I also feel a bit bad for Bristol. She’s basically the wreckage that results from having Sarah Palin–a venomous, spiteful, utterly ridiculous person–as your mother and ostensible female role model. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and that’s not really Bristol’s fault.

      On the other hand, Bristol snagged a cool quarter-million to lecture about abstinence, and now that she’s knocked up for the second time, she “doesn’t want to hear any lectures.” Well, we didn’t want to hear your stupid, fact-free lectures, Bristol, so here we are. Maybe now you’re starting to realize the value of actual sex ed and the perks of being informed rather than deluded.

  9. meursault1942 says:

    I must admit, I’m enjoying the schadenfreude that the wingnut freakout about the ACA and gay marriage rulings has brought. Of course, they’ve been on a 6-year-long temper tantrum of paranoia and idiocy–it’s why nobody regards them as adults–but man, has that temper tantrum reached a fever pitch! It’s fucking hilarious, and it will carry through to the 2016 election at the very least. Isn’t it interesting, though, that good things for America are bad things for conservatives (and vice-versa)? For a bunch of people who claim to love America, they really, really root against America.

    A couple other points to keep in mind as we celebrate a good week for America:

    1) Pretty much everything conservatives whine about is projection, and that works on the macro level, too. They’ve spent decades complaining about “judicial activism” that isn’t actually happening (when wingnuts talks about an “activist judge,” they mean nothing more than a judge who has issued a ruling they don’t like), and in the ACA and gay marriage cases, they were openly asking for judicial activism–and are angry they didn’t get it. Savor the hypocrisy!

    2) Don’t forget what, exactly, has them so insane with rage right now (well…more insane and with more rage than usual, at any rate). Gay people being treated as equals and poor people getting health coverage (and health care costs going down)–these are bridges way, way too far for conservatives. Most normal people would think of these as good things, but our wingnuts–bless their hearts–just can’t bring themselves to be happy. It’s a pretty pitiful life they’ve resigned themselves to, wallowing in hatred, anger, and ignorance as they are. But if they weren’t wallowing in hatred, anger, and ignorance, would they even be conservatives?

    • rustybrown2014 says:

      Great post M., you always hit the nail on the head. I’ll add this: Suck it religious right bigots! Welcome to 21st century America. Enjoy seeing your retarded retrograde “values” wither on the vine like so many rotten grapes in an obsolete orchard.

  10. 02casper says:

    It’s weeks like this that make me proud to be an American. The ACA continues to allow more people to have access to health care, gays can marry, and the racist confederate flag is being taken down all over the South. Plus it’s fun to watch the conservatives heads explode.

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