Thursday, November 08, 2012

Presidents and the economy: Who was best, worst?

Wow. This quiz is an eye-opener!

Here's what I learned: 
  • Democrats have the best record on income equality 
  •  Republicans amassed the most national dept between 1929 and 2008
  • Republicans achieved lower unemployment 
  • Democrats had more growth in personal disposable income, per capita 
  • If you threw out Carter and Hoover, and imagined that you had $100,000 to invest, Democrats would earn you $1,966,237; Republicans $1,009,673
  •  From 1929 to 2008, both Republicans and democrats each held the presidency for 40 years. Democrats offered the better returns on the stock market. 
  • Bush II administration presided over the worst trade imbalance in 80 years. 
  • The Truman administration saw the most positive trade balance. 
  • The Carter administration earned the worst score of any postwar president on the "misery index," the combination of inflation and unemployment rates
  • The Reagan administration saw unemployment soar to a post-depression high. 
  • Eisenhower created a massive stimulus program by building the interstate highway system 
  • Nixon repealed much of the Wagner Act, protecting unions' collective bargaining rights, but he also established the Environmental Protection Agency and signed OSHA 
  • Carter deregulated the airline industry, created a team within the Office of Management and Budget to use zero-based budgeting, eliminate unnecessary regulations, and create sunset laws to get rid of unneeded programs. 
  • The Kennedy-Johnson administration saw the highest economic growth
  • The Carter administration experienced stagflation. 
  • The Truman administration had the lowest average unemployment. (War is good for the economy?)
  • The second-best unemployment rate (4.9%) was under Kennedy/Johnson. (War is good for the economy?)
  • Roosevelt experienced the highest average unemployment
  • The administration that has seen the largest stock market returns during its tenure is Obama's, and Clinton's has seen the second-best in the last 80 years. 
  • Clinton presided over a long economic expansion without a single month of recession
  • Eisenhower presided over three recessions, the most of any modern president. 
  • Corporate after-tax profits expanded the most under Obama; Roosevelt saw the second-highest increase. 
  • Bush I said "Read my lips: No new taxes," then raised marginal tax rates from 28 to 31%, and phased out exemptions for high income taxpayers. 
  • The biggest peacetime tax increase in U.S. history was signed by Reagan. 
  • In the last 80 years, income inequality (the income gap between the 1% and everyone else) grew the most under Reagan. 
  • Clinton raised taxes on the rich and middle class, but saw the second-biggest jump in income equality over that same period. 
  •  Hoover saw the biggest drop in income inequality, followed by Roosevelt.
  • Hoover saw the biggest increase in per capita national debt as a percentage of the GDP; Obama saw the next largest.
  • The Kennedy-Johnson administration saw the biggest drop in per capita national debt as a percentage of the GDP; Eisenhower had the second-best record in reducing national debt per-capita. 
  • Bush II is  the only president to have an MBA

Presidents and the economy: Who was best, worst? Take our quiz.

This 1933 photo provided by the New York Historical Society courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum shows President-elect Roosevelt going to his Inauguration with outgoing President Hoover in Washington, D.C. The economy's performance under the presidents since Hoover has varied widely. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum/AP/File)
Which US presidents had the best economic performance? It's a topic of endless debate, since presidents exercise limited control over the economy and their policies often don't bear fruit until the next administration. Still, presidents are judged at the ballot box by how well the economy performs under their watch. In a new book, "Bulls, Bears, and the Ballot Box," authors Bob Deitrick and Lew Goldfarb crunch the numbers for Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush. Separately, they have provided numbers for Barack Obama through Sept. 30, 2012. Their rankings are just one lens on a complex question. Can you guess who did best? Worst? Which party "created" more growth?
- Staff writer

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