Disagreeing with a political scientist about economics

Following is an email I sent to the author of the opinion piece linked below, and then his response to me. see "Bush also earns low marks for economic policy" (Baltimore Sun, 7/18/07) http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bal-op.schaller18jul18,0,4553242.column? Professor Schaller, While you are correct on some facts in your article, your fundamental premise is flawed. President Bush can not be blamed for the recession we were going into just as he was taking office...a recession which was in part due to Bill Clinton's tax hikes. Bush's tax cuts stimulated the economy out of recession and caused unemployment levels to return to near-historic lows. So, seeing the first gain in real income in 2005 is not surprising for a country that was in recession going into 2003. Your argument sounds as if you believe everything suddenly changes when a new person takes the seat in the Oval Office. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, except for getting tax policy changed working with Congress, Presidents have very little effect on the economy. And that's a good thing, since the last thing our economy needs is more politicians who think they know best. So, as far as that sort of economic policy goes, Bush has done about as well as could be done. You are correct to note that spending has been horribly out of control under Bush, a serious disappointment for us fiscal conservatives and a primary reason that the GOP did so badly in the last election. (Yes, the Iraq situation is bad but if the GOP had remained true to fiscal conservative principles, I'm certain they would still control the Senate.) As far as the American dream, we'll see how that goes in the long run. My guess is that far more Americans truly believe it than have been showing up in recent polls, in part because Iraq is really weighing on people. However, there's one certain way to get people to come back to supporting liberty and free markets: Subject them to a few more years of Democrat economic idiocy. Democratic policy, if implemented, can only have one possible set of outcomes: recession caused by higher taxes and more regulation. The best argument against Democrats is clearly the Democrats. Now it's just up to Republicans to provide a more interesting alternative than they have in recent years because just being "not them" is usually not enough. Regards, Ross K Colorado -------------------------- Ross: First, thanks for reading and writing. Second, I never say Bush caused the recession--you're bullying a straw man argument you just made up and assigned to me. As for unemployment, keep in mind that after six months a person on unemployment is no longer counted as unemployed. in theory, that means if we all lost our jobs and stayed unemployed for six months, by january the unemployment rate would drop off from 100% to 0%, even though none of us was working. most economists calculate the true unemployment rate at closer to 8 or 9 percent. moreover, if you want to get technical, the economy needs to create 150K jobs/month just to keep up with the new Americans entering the workforce after high school or college. how's bush doing on that score? well, even if you don't hold bush accountable for his first AND second year in office (you're right, and i teach in my classes, that a president's policies, especially his budgets and tax policies, do not even become law for a year or two after he takes office), still, in the past 4.5 years (starting jan 2003) fewer than HALF the months bush has been in office since the start of 2003 have there been 150K or more new jobs in a month: specifically, 26 of the past 54 months.* (we could talk about the quality of these burger-flipping jobs, which the admnistration has called "manufacturing jobs", in a laughable lie that makes reagan's deeming ketchup a vegetable seem like a far more trivial fib.) *here's the link to the BLS chart with the data. unless i miscounted, from Jan03 forward it's 26 of 54 months: http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?data_tool=latest_numbers&series_id=CES0000000001&output_view=net_1mth so, half of the months since 2003 bush's (and the republicans, since they controlled congress, too) created too few jobs just to tread water with the expanding share of american workers. that's not an opinion, sir, that's a fact. and one according to bush's own government's official data. and again, a lot of these are low-wage, no-benefit jobs. cheers, tom
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