I saw the following graph this morning on MSNBC:
This graph was based on a study done by Larry Bartels of Princeton. Bartels found that under Democratic administrations, growth rates were higher, unemployment lower, and incomes distributed more evenly. Think about that.
Timothy Noah, who has done great work on presenting the depressing news about the increasing income inequality in America, presented the graph based on Bartels’ findings this way:
The only difference is the end year. I don’t know why the MSNBC graph used 2008, but the point remains the same: Income growth for all income groups grew significantly more under Democratic administrations, especially groups of lower and middle income folks, since 1948.
Look at those graphs. Study what they mean.* And then think about what they tell us every time you hear Republicans claim—as they do all the time—that they are better stewards of the economy and their economic philosophy and the resulting policies are far superior, in terms of economic growth, than those of the Democrats.
* To be scrupulously fair, a conservative Republican political scientist from the University at Buffalo, SUNY, James E. Campbell, challenged these findings by Bartels and others in a paper that concluded this way:
The parties are different in many important ways and may well have important long-term economic differences between them, but the economic outcomes that the presidential parties have presided over during the tenure of their administrations have not been significantly different once the economic conditions that they inherited are considered. The claim that Democratic presidents and policies have produced significantly greater economic growth, lower unemployment, and more equal distributions of income than Republican presidents and policies is not supported by the evidence.
Now, even if we grant this self-admitted Republican his argument—and I don’t after reading his paper—he is still not claiming that Republicans are better managers of the economy nor claiming that economic growth is better under their administrations. He is merely saying that there isn’t much of a difference between the two parties. So, even if we accept his conclusion, Republicans still have no business claiming the high ground on economic stewardship.