By Mark Esposito, Weekend Blogger
In the red corner, wearing angelic white trunks trimmed in gold that darling of the Right, that Gipper of trickle-down economics, the Great Communicator himself, Ron–ald “The California Killer” Rea–gan.
And in the blue corner with black trunks trimmed in red, the “change” President, the foil of all things conservative, the first of firsts in American History, Bar–ack “Betcha Can’t Believe Where I’m From” O–Bam–a.
And today’s contest is a three-round fight for the World Super Heavyweight Economics Guru Belt. The format is a 10 point “must” system and you are the judges. I, your humble ring announcer, get a scorecard but it’s only advisory.
But first some background, both fighters weigh in after tangling with some decidedly tough contenders before this big bout. Reagan came into office with a much more serious recession than most on the Left give him credit for. In addition, he followed hot on the heels of what his predecessor called the great American “malaise.” Plus he had an adversarial relationship with the nation’s biggest rival, the Soviet Union.
Obama came into office with a war on two fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, a massive recession, and a world-wide financial industry on the brink of collapse. Pretty tough contenders. Plus, he had and has a Congressional opposition party whose expressed goal was to make sure nothing he proposed made it into law. And law, as you know, is the political boxer’s stock-in-trade.
Ding— ding — ding.
Round 1: Jobs
Barack jabs with the fact that unemployment in the US in August stood at 6.1% that’s a full year faster than it took Reagan to reach the same level. And it’s now down to 5.9% a figure Reagan never achieved. Obama also uppercuts with the fact that the economy he presides over has created, on average, 200,000 new jobs every month for the past six. That puts Obama at a projected 2.5 million jobs created for FY 2014. Reagan counters that in first year in office, unemployment stood at around 10.5% or about a half to three-quarters of a point higher than Obama’s highest figure. Obama counters that initial claims for unemployment are at the lowest point since 2000. 2000!
Reagan dances. “But overall, jobs created while I was in office for the entire term totalled a net figure of 16.1 million. That’s about three times yours, so far, Barack.”
Here’s a graphic depiction of the two fighters comparing the unemployment rate during their first 67 months in office:
Announcer’s Scorecard: Reagan 10 – Obama 9
Round 2: Investor ROI
Reagan comes out strong in Round 2, hooking with the undeniable stat that a dollar invested in the Standard & Poors 500 Index of stocks in year one of his Presidency would have yielded a staggering 190% return on investment after 5.5 years — a record in American history. Reagan bores in saying he did it with tax cuts and government spending in defense and manufacturing sectors. Obama covers up, but is it rope-a-dope? Out of the corner, Obama right crosses that a dollar invested in that same S&P 500 Index during year 1 of his Presidency would yield a return of 220% in the same time frame and that the Dow stands at its highest level ever. And that translates into real dollars for non-passive investors (i.e., working everyday Americans) as 2/3 of Americans are invested in the market through their pensions or 401K plans.
Here’s the chart of ROI:
Your announcer scores it: Obama 10-Reagan 9
Round 3: Government Spending
Staggered but not out of it, Reagan thinks this round is his. He is after-all the supply side economics guy who cut government spending to boost an ailing economy and made all Republican economists sing with delight every time a tax is eliminated. Sort of like that tinkling bell in a Wonderful Life when an angel got it’s wings. Reagan hits hard with the fact that in “the first year of the Obama presidency … the federal budget increased a whopping 17.9%—going from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion.” And the ringside Reagan chanters keep up the mantra from ringside that it was due to the stimulus package.
Except … that every President’s first year budget is proposed and passed, not by his administration but by his predecessor in office and the Congress from the year before. In Obama’s case, George W. Bush passed the Obama’s first year budget and it is his deficit and spending priorities in that document. Thus, Obama’s 2009 budget belongs squarely to President George W. Bush and the 2008 Congress. “Well,” the Gipper says from his coverup crouch, “Obama must have continued the rate of spending to astronomical levels.”
Not exactly. Here is a bar Graph showing the rate of federal government spending under the past 5 US Presidents:
And add these punches to your ring scorecard:
Courtesy of Marketwatch–
- In fiscal 2010 (the first Obama budget) spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.
- In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.
- In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.
- Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion.
Your Announcer scores it Obama 10 – Reagan 8
And The Winner is:
Ok, now it’s up to you. Who is the best President you’ve seen on the economy out of the last five:
~Mark Esposito, Weekend Blogger
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