Economics probably heads the list of things about which I cannot claim expertise, so I’m lucky in that Dear Husband (DH) — who is an expert — is not only available to me as a resource, but has the gift of explaining things on my terms.
Like many folks, I tend to lay blame (or award praise) for the economy — whatever state it’s in at the moment — on the current administration. And when I do this, DH nearly always tries to remind me that the economy is cyclic: that we go through ups and downs in roughly 7 year cycles. The height and depth of the associated peaks and valleys may vary, but the economic rhythm is a natural state.
So DH would probably agree in the abstract with Paul Krugman in the NY Times:
The Reagan economy was a one-hit wonder. Yes, there was a boom in the mid-1980s, as the economy recovered from a severe recession. But while the rich got much richer, there was little sustained economic improvement for most Americans. By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before — and the poverty rate had actually risen.
This is fairly misleading, though. One could describe many presidents’ economies as “one-hit wonders”, depending on where in the cycle one chooses to pull charts and graphs. If things are trending up, the policies are brilliant. Trending down? Those policies are the cause. It’s pretty straight-forward… until you peek behind the partisan curtain.
But Paul Krugman’s focus is far narrower in this morning’s column; it’s merely the latest sortie in his battle with Barack Obama over Reagan:
But where in [Obama’s] remarks was the clear declaration that Reaganomics failed?
Gee, Paul — I dunno. Let’s go see what he said:
Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.
He tapped into what people were already feeling, which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want, you know, a return to that sense of dynamism and, you know, entrepreneurship that had been missing.
Hmmm…. nope. Don’t see it — nor do I see an assertion that they succeeded. In fact, I don’t see any mention whatsoever about Reagan’s policies.
To at least some degree, people are obviously going to hear what they want when politicians speak, but this isn’t all that complex a combination of consonants and vowels, folks. Three sentences. Two paragraphs.