Forecasting the Excuses
OK. If you’ve been awake in the past six years, you know the first three years of the GW term were pretty awful. You also know the second three years were adequate. (For a look at GW’s performance, and that of other Presidents, see here and here.)
Anyway, I haven’t run any numbers, and I’ve been swamped lately, but I would guess that the next couple of years of the GW administration will show, at best, adequate growth. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some major tanking in the economy within the next two years either. Like the other Republican Presidents since Ike, he will underperform every Democrat in the post –WW2 era when it comes to the annualized increase in real growth less increase in debt per capita. He’ll probably underperform even if debt is left out. He’ll probably even underpeform if you leave out the “per capita” and fail to adjust for inflation.
So now the question… what happens after that? What will be the position of all those who are crowing these days about how tax cuts work, and pointing to GW’s adequate three years as evidence? (These people all ignore the fact that GW’s tax cutting started in his first year in office. In 2001, he cut the lowest marginal rate from 15% to 10%, and the top rate was also cut by half a percentage point. The top rate was cut by another half a percentage point in 2002.)
I see a few options. They could insist his performance was just dandy, facts be damned – call that the St. Ronald the Reagan scenario. That basically involves pretending that one’s mostest favoritest wonderfulest president just managed to beat out the performance of history’s greatest monster, and that only by driving up the debt.
Another option is to insist that it’s Clinton’s fault. A third option is to insist that somehow one of the other actions that GW took somehow nullified the magical properties of the tax cuts. (I.e., “he spends like a democrat!”) A fourth option is to admit they’re wrong, they’ve been wrong, and they’ve led the country down a ruinous path.
I could be wrong… who knows, GW might produce the bestest most Reaganish economy ever in the next two years. Time will tell. But what if I’m right? What option are the believers going to take? (Its pretty option they aren’t going to take.)