President Bush's critics accuse him of presiding over a weak
economy. They claim that job creation has been anemic and that
growth has been uneven. Sure, partisan politics color these
charges, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're untrue. What do
the numbers actually say?
As is often the case in politics, we find competing answers. Critics use one set of job numbers to make the president's performance look weak; supporters use another measure of employment to make him look good. The same can be said for economic growth figures: Critics measure growth from the day President Bush took office and claim the economy's performance has been sub-par. Supporters say we shouldn't blame the president for the recession he inherited and point to the strong growth that has occurred since the tax cuts took effect.
So who's right? Has President Bush done a poor job? Fortunately, there's a way to answer this question without having to pick sides in the partisan fight. The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of Congress has just published a comprehensive report analyzing economic performance among the world's major economies (available at www.house.gov/jec). Entitled "International Economic Performance Since the Stock Market Bubble," the report compares growth rates and job creation in the United States, Japan, the European Union and Canada.
The report finds that the United States economy has significantly out-performed other developed economies. This does not necessarily mean that President Bush has done a great job, but it unambiguously means that his economic policies have performed better than those of our major foreign competitors. In a global economy, it's an unbiased -- and important -- way of measuring who has done the best job.
The JEC report notes that all developed nations suffered an economic downturn earlier this decade. Financial markets declined and unemployment rose in every major country. The key question is how various leaders responded. President Bush aggressively moved to lower tax rates. He saw how lower tax rates during the 1980s helped trigger a record economic boom and wanted to repeat Ronald Reagan's successful formula. According to the JEC study, President Bush made the right decision:
Distributed nationally on the Knight-Ridder Tribune wire