Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference, March 7, 2014, in National Harbor, Md.
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Rand Paul doesn’t remember the 1980s very well

At the inaugural “Freedom Summit” in New Hampshire over the weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said President Obama’s economic policies mirror the “failed” policies of the 1970s: “Out-of-control spending, taxes, and regulation produced the exact same misery and stagnation.” The remarks were well received, though none of Cruz’s claim is true.
But as Bill Scher noted, Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) attempts at the same event to combine recent history with economic analysis were arguably worse.
When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan … Did he say, ‘Oh let’s just cut taxes for low-income people?’ No, he said forthrightly, ‘Let’s cut everyone’s taxes’ … The top rate was 70% … he lowered it … to 28% … and 20 million jobs were created.”
OK, senator, you asked for this.
Here’s a chart showing job creation by president since the Eisenhower era began more than six decades ago. Red columns show Republican administrations; blue columns show Democratic administrations.
1. When is “the last time in our country we created millions of jobs”? Well, every president since Hoover has seen millions of jobs created – the question is how many millions. The modern high was the Clinton era – which came after, not before, Reagan – when more than 23 million jobs were created.
2. Reagan did lower the top marginal rate, but he also raised taxes when the deficit soared. (Incidentally, job creation under Reagan didn’t pick up until after he raised taxes.)
3. Clinton raised the top marginal rate and saw the best job growth in modern times. I’m yet to hear a Republican explain how this is possible.
4. George W. Bush cut taxes considerably, including reducing the top marginal rate. He also saw the worst job creation of any president since Hoover. I’m yet to hear a Republican explain how this is possible.
5. Reagan didn’t create 20 million jobs. Rand Paul is off by over 4 million.
Shouldn’t Rand Paul have looked some of this up before making false claims in a big political speech?
I should note that some of the elements of the above chart paint an incomplete picture. Kennedy, for example, had job creation roughly equal to Eisenhower, but Ike served eight years and JFK served three. Obama’s totals include the devastating job losses of the Great Recession, which he inherited, but he still has seen stronger job growth than both of the Bush presidencies (plus, he has three and a half more years to add to his total).
What’s more, as Michael Tomasky noted a while back, the historic Democratic advantage is greater when looking solely at private-sector job growth.
The answer is that 42 million jobs were created under Democratic presidents, and 24 million under Republicans. You can check out the chart here. The champion of course is Clinton, with 20.8 million under Bberg’s numbers. Then comes Reagan at 14.7. Then come Johnson and Carter (yep, Carter). Then Nixon. And so on.
George W. Bush? The private sector lost 600,000 jobs. Imagine. In eight years, he did not create a single job.
Just a few tidbits for Rand Paul to consider in advance of his next speech.