Sunday, April 03, 2005
Interesting op-ed piece by Michael Kinsley. In short, he writes:
Statistics back to 1959 make this clear. A consistent pattern over 45 years cannot be explained by shorter-term factors, such as war or who controls Congress. Maybe presidents can't affect the economy much, but the assumption that they can and do is so prominent in Republican rhetoric that they are stuck with it. So consider:

Federal spending (aka "big government"): It has gone up an average of about $50 billion a year under presidents of both parties. But that breaks down as $35 billion a year under Democratic presidents and $60 billion under Republicans. If you assume that it takes a year for a president's policies to take effect, Democrats have raised spending by $40 billion a year and Republicans by $55 billion.

First, why didn't Kinsley look at who controlled congress versus which party held the presidency? I think using the presidency is a flaw in and of itself. But the bigger problem is that Kinsley doesn't seem to consider at all what I think is the most important variable: whether the Republicans are forced to pass spending increases by the Democrats in order to pass other legislation that the Republicans want. Obviously this would take a great deal of time and effort to study most likely, but that doesn't mean it isn't the factor that explains this data.

So, while interesting, Kinsley's op-ed piece is pretty meaningless really since he doesn't even attempt to address the most obvious (and probable) explanation for the data.
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I am an attorney in Chicago. Politically speaking, I am an indepedent that tends to lean conservative on fiscal issues and progressive on social issues. I try to remain as unbiased and open-minded as possible. Please email or post any comments, and especially criticisms. If something I say is wrong, or you disagree - let me know about it!



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