Instapundit has a small but interesting roundup of links contrasting the economic expansions during the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg on The Corner). Pace Instapundit, I don’t think conservatives who give congressional Republicans significant (but not complete) credit for the late 1990s boom are necessarily slighting Robert Rubin or Gene Sperling.
The Clinton administration’s economic policies are substantially better than those favored by many leading Democrats today; some of the effects of the Bubba-Newt divided government were better than the untrammeled Grand Old Spending Party of Bush’s first six years.But I would hesitate to say “Clinton’s economic policies were quite good.” Until the Republicans took Congress, those policies were increased taxes, increased spending, and a failed healthcare plan that would have been the biggest expansion of the federal government since perhaps the New Deal.
If the worst of these policies had become law, the negative economic consequences would likely have far outweighed the positive effects of Clinton’s support for free trade and welfare reform. And while the 1993 Clinton tax increase was more compatible with robust economic growth than many conservatives predicted, it did reduce growth. After Republicans took Congress, the policies became more pro-growth — and, probably not coincidentally, the economy grew faster.
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