Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina responds to a question at a Fox-sponsored forum in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015. 
Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

Fiorina wonders: does the economy do better under Dem presidents?

Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina has a new op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, insisting that the economy under President Obama is terrible. Not surprisingly, it’s a deeply troubled piece.
 
As proof of her thesis, the failed former business executive points to the national debt (which isn’t the economy), the complexity of the tax code (which also isn’t the economy), the rate of small business closures (which is wildly misleading), and the notion that 92% of the jobs lost during Obama’s first term belonged to women (which is a ridiculous claim recycled from Mitt Romney’s mendacious talking points).
 
None of this will help Fiorina’s reputation as a candidate who’s willing to say things that aren’t true.
 
But the real gem in the piece had nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with a claim from his would-be Democratic successor.
…Hillary Clinton said on Oct. 13 in the first Democratic presidential debate, “The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House,” and she offers variations on that line when campaigning.
 
Whose economy is she talking about?
That would be the U.S. economy. Why, which economy is Fiorina talking about?
 
Her op-ed makes no effort whatsoever to contest the accuracy of Clinton’s historical claim; she simply expressed incredulity, as if the claim couldn’t possibly be true.
 
So, just for kicks, let’s do what Fiorina chose not to do: a little fact-checking. Hillary Clinton specifically said in the Democratic debate two weeks ago, “[I]f you look at the Republicans versus the Democrats when it comes to economic policy, there is no comparison. The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House.” Is that true or is it false?
 
The New York Times recently published a piece from CNBC’s John Harwood, who noted that Republicans “have a data problem”: for the last quarter-century, GOP claims about the economy have consistently been wrong, and at times, completely backwards.
 
But we can also take an even broader view. Marketwatch published a piece on the subject just this week.
How has the economy done under Democratic and Republican presidents? Has one side tended to be better for the economy than the other? As it happens, the answer – based on seven decades worth of economic stats going back to the end of World War II – is yes.
 
Since 1945, American voters have swung back and forth between both parties: seven Democratic presidents and nine Republican ones. Economic growth in real terms (in other words, adjusted for inflation) averaged 2.54% per year under Republican presidents, but 4.35% per year under Democratic ones…. Adding more fuel to the argument, The Economist notes that better job creation and stock market performance also coincide more with Democratic presidents than Republican ones.
The Atlantic also reported a while back that over the last 70 years, “the U.S. economy has been better, across many metrics, when a Democrat has been the president.”
 
I’m also reminded of this Michael Kinsley research from 2008, in which he reported that not only has the economy consistently done better under Democratic presidents, it’s not the result of random chance.
 
If Fiorina wants to argue that there are all kinds of variables that affect economic outcomes, fine. But if she wants to know whether the economy performs better under Democratic or Republican presidents, the facts are not in dispute.
 
 

Carly Fiorina

Fiorina wonders: does the economy do better under Dem presidents?