Progress, Regress

Economic Performance Under Presidents Clinton and Bush

A look at economic performance under Presidents Clinton and Bush shows that progressive policies yielded strong and sustained growth, which was swept away by Bush’s failed policies.

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Progress

President Clinton took office at a time of large deficits and high unemployment. The country was headed in the wrong direction after more than a decade of supply-side economics. President Clinton turned the country around by adopting progressive economic policies that focused on reducing the budget deficit, halting the widening gap between rich and poor, and spurring innovation and investment. By the end of his term, these progressive policies had yielded the longest sustained period of economic growth in American history and more than 23 million new jobs.

Regress

Despite the clear success of progressive policies in the 1990s, President Bush returned the country to the failed economic strategy of focusing on the very wealthy under the theory that their success would “trickle down” to everyone else. It didn’t work out that way. President Bush cut taxes repeatedly for high-income earners and on capital gains, with the promise that those cuts would result in impressive growth for everyone. The rich were doing very well after eight years of supply-side policies, but everyone else was falling back. Median incomes and wages were down, poverty was up, job growth was anemic, and unemployment was beginning to soar.

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