NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Effects Of Past Growth

March 26, 1996

Many economists think President Clinton is overly proud of the American economy. But present growth rates would be viewed as a cause for alarm by President John F. Kennedy.

  • When Kennedy won in 1960 on a pledge to "get this country moving again," the economy was growing at an annual rate of 2.2 percent, already faster than the 1995 rate of 2.1 percent Clinton sees as healthy.
  • The administration projects real gross domestic product growth of 2.2 percent this year, then 2.3 percent a year through 2002.
  • Yet in the 30 years since 1965, growth averaged nearly 2.9 percent a year.
  • Furthermore, real growth has exceeded 2.3 percent in all but eight of the past 30 years.

If, over that time, the economy had grown at the rates Clinton calls healthy, 1995's GDP would have been 15.7 percent smaller than it was -- which translates to a loss of nearly $1.1 trillion in annual output, or more than $4,000 per capita in 1992 dollars. It would also amount to 13.4 million fewer jobs.

Economists place the blame for lower growth rates squarely on the twin burdens of high taxes and regulatory drag.

  • The president and his party passed the largest tax increase in the nation's history -- $241 billion. Without a single Republican vote, Congress raised taxes on gasoline, raised marginal tax rates, repealed the cap on the Medicare payroll tax and raised taxes on Social Security recipients.
  • In this administration's first three years, it generated 188,725 pages of regulations in the Federal Register -- the largest amount in any three-year period since the Carter Administration.

Source: James Carter (Republican National Committee), "Economic Health: Clinton vs. JFK," Investor's Business Daily, March 26, 1996.


Browse more articles on Economic Issues