Just for fun, because today feels like a good day to talk about Grover Cleveland…. The economy has boomed under President Joe Biden, putting the lie to the old trope that Democrats don’t manage the economy as well as Republicans. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. The economy has performed better under Democrats than Republicans since at least World War II. CNN Business reports that since 1945, the Standard & Poor’s 500—a market index of 500 leading U.S. publicly traded companies—has averaged an annual gain of 11.2% during years when Democrats controlled the White House, and a 6.9% average gain under Republicans. In the same time period, gross domestic product grew by an average of 4.1% under Democrats, 2.5% under Republicans. Job growth, too, is significantly stronger under Democrats than Republicans.
Nothing short of brilliant, Heather, and an early night for you for once. I am so grateful to be reading you every day and I know I speak for thousands. Thank you From the bottom of our hearts!
Here's the pattern I've observed during my lifetime as a Democrat: When Republicans are in office, they tax based on the theory that "a rising tide floats all boats." They spend liberally on what matters to them and when the Dems come in, they have to figure out a way to pay for the deficits run up by the Republicans.
When trying to redress the inequalities in our country thanks to the previous administration, Democrats are called "socialists" and "big spenders." Perfect example: Biden after TFG and his tax cuts for the rich.
Democrats need to tell this story over and over again because the Republicans will continue to use the same old playbook!
"This (economic growth better under Democrats) should not come as a surprise to anyone."
This is obvious to me Dr. Richardson.
Here is what I have observed only in my own adult lifetime, beginning in 1980 (yikes!)
In 1980, Jimmy Carter, after having run a balanced budget and continued to pay down WWII debt, but, having been demonized by Reagan as running giant "wasteful welfare" programs lost the election (I BELIEVED Carter was irresponsible and I BELIEVED Reagan would be responsible).
However, I DO remember that I graduated with a ChE degree in 1982 and HALF of my classmates could not get jobs and a large fraction of that graduating class NEVER was able to get a good job under Reagan and left the field.
At the end of Reagan's EIGHT years (supported by me twice I shamefully admit), the United States had acquired an extra $2.1 TRILLION ($5.5 TRILLION in today's dollars) in additional debt, almost all of it having gone to military contractors who were Reagan's main donors.
For the first time since WWII a President, REAGAN, ran a giagantic deficit. NOT Carter.
So, in fact, after a long postwar period of "responsible" spending (because even during the wasteful Vietnam adventure the US kept reducing WW II debt) REAGAN was the first President to actually begin a NEW WELFARE PROGRAM: WELFARE FOR MILITARY CONTRACTORS.
Big money for Military Contractors is essentially "Welfare for White People" because, until very, very, very recently (and even now to a large extent) those contractors only hired WHITE engineers and managers. This explains, completely, why the only bipartisan vote that ever happens is for the military budget every year.
Welfare for white people is popular.
But, the story continues. In 1998 in a bipartisan disaster, the Glass Steagall Act was repealed which prevented banks from betting in the markets with your personal money and then in 2001 DERIVATIVES were legalized by the Bush administration for the first time in history.
And, so began the 2008 debacle in the housing market which resulted in banks betting, with derivatives (mortgage backed securities) on assets that simply did not exist. A huge fraud on the American people then preceded as we gave Federal Money to banks to "bail them out" for a drunken gambling spree legalized by Republicans under Bush.
Now, at this point we could have just let the economy tank and let people starve in the streets. THAT would have helped more people understand Republican Party economic failures.
But No!. Obama then spent 8 TRILLION dollars of deficit, on the books, soft landing the economy which DID get him elected twice. BUT, the consequence was: We all forgot how bad Republican leadership crashes the economy and how much debt is necessary to bail out Republican policy failures.
Plus, off the books the Fed literally, without anyone voting, put another $5 Trillion of the worthless mortgage assets on its books by buying them from banks at inflated prices.
Yep. On purpose, we kept people from starving in the streets on the backs of something like $14 Trillion dollars in printed money. If that seems like a bad idea, well, it is even worse than you think because:
Everyone forgot how BAD Republican Policy is for the economy. But, not me. I was paying attention.
Every time a Republican gets in office said Republican will directly or indirectly add a gigantic amount to the deficit and even then, the economy will fail.
Like it did under Reagan (yes, 1982 to 1986 was disaster that everyone forgot about),
Like it did under Bush (complete disaster)
and like it did under Trump (although Pubs are blaming the Coronavirus) but Trump ended up his Presidency with massively increased debt and an economic disaster to give to Biden.
JUST in my adult lifetime, Republicans have always been a complete economic catastrophe for America and, to me, it is mind boggling that ANYONE would do anything but vote against any Republican running for any position, including dogcatcher at the local town.
My ignorance of American history appalls me — and I thought I’d had a good education. Thank you, HCR, for educating this 75 year old graduate of one of the Seven Sisters colleges and a law school dropout to boot. I am much obliged and very grateful to you.
It appears that historical lessons about what works is to pay workers enough to buy the products they make (e.g., Ford). The impoverishment of workers savages the economy. The concentration of wealth impoverishes the workers. It seems so simple, no?
'Advanced' capitalism trashes Earth as well as the beings who populate it. Extinction, anyone? The shame of profit off the backs of the elderly, the workers, the habitat of co-existing beings, planetary health, etc., appears to be water off a duck's back to the greedy profiteers.
The tragedy of the greed gene will continue to evidence in the changed climate catastrophes.
I would like to see this theme get much more play. "The persistence of the myth that Democrats are bad for the economy is an interesting example of the endurance of political rhetoric over reality." I am not a historian but took notice when the Reagan Administration became known for dominating publicity with its skilled communication team and the promotion of a message of the day. That administration was criticized for running every day as a campaign. The most outrageous Republican pronouncements have the same effect, to dominate attention. Again, although not a historian, I noticed this with the Tea Party's antics. Trump's feverish Twitter posts and his outlandish lies took up all of the oxygen in the room. And the monolithic Republican media juggernaut combined with politicians who are disciplined in repeated messaging and outrage from the national stage down to the local school board continue to get much more notice. Meanwhile Democrats plan to win by governing better. How's that working? If Democrats refuse to focus on disciplined messaging that captures attention, we'll continue to lose, when doing so is increasingly disastrous. I'm sure that there is more history behind this.
Such riveting reading, Heather! While I have tried hard to become well-versed in US history during my thirty years as an immigrant, nothing has educated me more deeply nor more fully than your letters. Sometimes, I have to read them more than once to fill my heart and mind with your uncanny acuity.
This letter, filled with such profound sensitivity, is one for the books:
"And yet, of course, it has been Republican economic policies that opened up the possibility for Democrats to try new approaches to the economy, to make it serve all Americans, rather than a favored few. As FDR put it: 'It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.'"
"If you want to live like a Republican, vote for the Democrats." -- President Harry Truman
Heather, you always give us a spin on history. As is the case tonight, we often see that everything old is new again. Thanks for your knowledge and wisdom.
Well! This is altogether not what I have understood to be the path of political history of the Democrats and Republicans that I learned in school, albeit MANY years ago. I am not a historian nor do I claim to be particularly well read on this topic, but I would not get into a spitting contest over something like this with Heather Cox Robinson!
This is exactly why I do read material like this. It isn’t simply because it reinforces my own attitudes, but even more, it explains clearly and informs me with facts that are backed up with footnotes for the statements made in the article.
What Prof. Cox Richardson does with her letters is akin to magic! She will take a topic of the day expound on the matter at hand, then point by point, she will break everything down to its constituent parts so the reader can understand what is happening, why it is happening, and if it is possible, she will offer pathways for avoiding calamity.
I am so grateful for the Letter to an American! I am even more grateful that Heather Cox Richardson is willing to make the tremendous effort to write these letters for us with full annotations daily. Saying thank you is not adequate to express my full gratitude for this effort. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
I believe I’ll send this onto my republican family members. Socialism is their new word of the day…
Before there was a question of whether wealthy Northerners would support the Union, there was the question of whether they would sign the Declaration of Independence.
And in fact John Dickinson, Delegate to the Continental Congress of Pennsylvania - one of the most eloquent writers in defense of colonists' interests and articulators of their grievances, and one of the wealthiest men in the Colonies - did not. Although his motives were as much loyalty to England and a wish for reform through reconciliation. He resigned from Congress rather than sign, and then headed up a militia to join Washington's troops in battle. And of course, it was Dickinson's "Letters from a farmer in Pennsylvania, to the inhabitants of the British Colonies" which inspired the title of HCR's letters.
Before there was "Hamilton" there was the 1969 play "1776" which depicted all this. The play was was performed in 1970 in the White House for Pres. Nixon who demanded of his friend Jack Warner that the song depicting Dickinson's position be cut from the 1972 film version.
"In the musical “1776,” the song “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men” depicts Revolutionary War era conservatives as power-hungry wheedlers focused on maintaining wealth. So it’s not surprising that then-President Richard Nixon, who saw the show at a special White House performance in 1970, wasn’t a big fan of the number.
What is surprising is that according to Jack L. Warner, the film’s producer and a friend of the president, Nixon pressured him to cut the song from the 1972 film version of the show–which Warner did. Warner also wanted the original negative of the song shredded, but the film’s editor secretly kept it intact." - LA Times
. . .
"and Howard Da Silva, who played Ben Franklin. The last time Da Silva had received an invitation from Nixon, it was to testify before 1947’s House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), the anti-communist star chamber that Nixon helped to revivify during his time in Congress. Da Silva refused to talk and was subsequently blacklisted from Hollywood for many years." - LA Times
No wonder Nixon objected. (And if you watch the youtube film clip, please note the rather goose-steppy minuet.) And in the category of political rhetoric over reality, Dickinson's retort to Hancock just about sums up the GOP's successful, if baffling, strategy of ensnaring the working class populists to serve the 1% plutocrats.
But why, sir? For personal glory? For a... place in history? Be careful, sir. History will brand Mr. Adams and his followers as traitors
Traitors, Mr. Dickinson? To what? The British crown? Or the British half-crown? Fortunately, there are not enough men of property in America to dictate policy
Well, perhaps not. But don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor. And that is why they will follow us!
[DICKINSON & CONGRESS]
To the right, ever to the right
Never to the left, forever to the right.
Though I cannot begin to calculate the immeasurable benefits of receiving LFAA’s near daily historical accountings shaping contemporary perspectives, considering we have but a small window to effect the mood of the country if, next fall, we’re to have a shot at retaining both the House and the Senate, I wish to fast forward to the immediate present.
Though there likely are a number of factors that could help explain why the Administration’s accomplishments are not resonating with enough of the public (e.g., recent polls show that 60+% of Republicans are enthused about the November midterms compared with only 40% of Democrats), my comment today will address just one factor I deem mighty critical. I submit that Democrats ought to focus far more on rendering their story as opposed to talking about abstract legislation and non relatable numbers and data. One example is the $20 billion federal investment in semi-conductors in Ohio replete with stories from people about what these manufacturing and construction jobs have meant to them and to their families. Note I haven’t even touched on how said investment helps to remedy a dependence on South Korea and Taiwan, a dependence that has contributed to mounting supply chain hang-ups at our ports. My point is that Dems need to gin up their constituents’ enthusiasm with a host of stories related to the impact of the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure legislation for which Republicans are taking credit, despite the legislation not receiving a single House Republican vote. On a final note, people also should understand what they’re losing while the human infrastructure piece of the President’s BBB agenda remains stalled in the Senate.
Which modern Presidents left a surplus in the treasury? Which ones spent it to deficits, lavishing debt to buy more arms for senseless wars? It’s not just $ they are spending ( robbing?), but the blood and promise of the young.
FDR- “But above all try something.”
Republicans don’t even have a platform that their party will run on.
You make our collective history a novel, an exploration, a window (of discovery) and a great reading experience. You’re not just a great teacher, you’re an incredibly talented writer. The way you weave history into current events is seamless and beautiful.