The Economic Debate: Bring It On

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Today’s Financial Times writes that “President George W. Bush sought on Monday to change the subject from the deteriorating situation in Iraq by focusing on the strength of the US economy.” The President spoke to the media and gave a prediction about the November elections: “We're not going to lose anybody, and the reason why is the economy's strong.”

So President Bush and the Republicans want a debate on the economy. We say - Bring it on.

In the Bush era, our government has spent more than it takes in and has borrowed hundreds of billions of dollars from foreign governments to fund its basic operations. The latest round of global trade talks have collapsed, the trade deficit has soared and the dollar has declined.

Meanwhile ordinary Americans have struggled to make ends meet, as jobs have been created at a far slower rate than in recent history, wages have stagnated, and median family incomes have fallen. The number of Americans without health insurance and those in poverty have risen, and the costs of college, health care and interest have climbed.

Bush's plan for economic success has not delivered on its promises. And the American people know it. Today’s Washington Post poll shows that 74% of Americans say their families are either treading water or falling behind under President Bush, even though the majority of respondents think the economy is in good shape.

Contrast this disappointing record with the record of progressives in the 1990s, a period that saw the longest sustained economic boom in American history. And unlike today, the economic expansion of the 1990s lifted all boats. Led by President Clinton, the budget deficit was turned into surplus, job growth was strong, the minimum wage was increased, taxes were cut for millions of American families, and wages grew in step with productivity.

And while the real median household income of American families declined by $1,669 in the first Bush term, the broad prosperity achieved in the Clinton years led to a median household incomes increase of $7,858. During the 1990s progressives delivered broadly shared economic prosperity, and we can do it again.

NDN recently released three reports that lay out a strong argument for new, progressive economic leadership.

  1. Our major report on “The Bush Economic Record” presents a comprehensive comparison of the economy under President Bush and President Clinton.
  2. Our memo on “The Emerging Progressive Economic Consensus on Wages” shows how declining wages and stagnant incomes explain Americans’ gloomy economic outlook.
  3. And our recent memo “Challenging the Republican Economic Record” lays out why Democrats must engage in the economic debate in the coming weeks, and how we can win.

These reports show that conservative policies have failed to meet the challenges of our time and have left too many Americans struggling to get ahead.

If President Bush wants to debate the economy, we at NDN, and all progressives, are very ready for the fight.


Simon Rosenberg