While the records of most of these former presidents are within a reasonable range of one another, President Obama’s 9.4 percent average puts him in a league by himself. What reelected Ronald Reagan was the strength of his economic policies – lower taxes and less regulation. They worked. They produced growth, the key to real recovery and significant job gains. That is the glaring difference between these two presidents.
After two-and-a-half years of Reaganomics, by this time in 1983, second-quarter growth had hit an astounding 9.3 percent and would be followed by three more quarters of 8 percent or higher growth. In contrast, Obama’s second-quarter growth this year was an anemic 1.0 percent, with no light at the end of the tunnel.
The CBO recently revised its 2011 growth rate downward to a weak 1.5 percent for the year, while the president’s own economic advisors had forecast a 2.8 percent rate. Whichever ends up closer to reality, either projection falls far short of Reagan’s extraordinary growth rate for the same third year of his presidency.
The lesson Democrats ought to take from this dismal comparison is simple: Keynesian policies simply can’t produce the growth that supply-side economics can. Yet this president and his supporters cling to the notion, as evidenced by his latest jobs bill, that higher taxes and more spending is the way out of the economic wilderness and toward victory in 2012.
Ronald Reagan earned a second term because he answered the question, “Where are the jobs?” by producing an extraordinary record of growth that voters understood would lead to jobs and did. When it comes to the economic records of Reagan and Obama, there is no comparison.
— David Winston is the president of The Winston Group and for over a decade has advised House and Senate Republican leadership.