NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Liberals Will Blame George W. Bush

July 5, 2000

Back in the 1980s, liberals attacked Ronald Reagan for enriching the rich through tax cuts and a laissez-faire attitude toward corporate takeovers. But in the 1990s, these same liberals turned a blind eye to corporate takeovers and even greater increases in the wealth of the rich.

Just look at the Census Bureau's income distribution figures:

  • The latest data, for 1998, show that the top 5 percent of households ranked by income received 21.4 percent of aggregate income -- an increase of 2.8 percent over the 18.6 percent share this group received in 1992.
  • By contrast, over the same period of time during the Reagan Administration, 1980 to 1986, the top 5 percent of households saw their share of aggregate income rise only 1.7 percent.

Thus the rich have gotten richer faster under Clinton than they did under Reagan. Yet Reagan was accused of encouraging greed, while Clinton has gotten a pass.

Liberals in effect blamed the faults of the Carter Administration on Ronald Reagan by always using 1979 rather than 1980 as their base year. This attributed the sharp drop in income for those at the bottom of the income distribution to Reagan, when actually most of it occurred under Carter in 1980.

Also, liberals would often point to the decline in workers' real average weekly earnings in the 1980s without ever mentioning that this trend began in 1973. Nor did they ever acknowledge that virtually all economists attributed the trend to structural changes in the economy.

Lately, liberals have warned about the "concentration of corporate power" from mergers. But unlike in the 1980s, there is no hint that the current administration's policies are responsible. As soon as George W. Bush is in the White House, however, I have no doubt that this will be laid at his feet.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, July 5, 2000.


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