A tale of two presidencies

Namely, those of Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, and specifically, their fiscal performance. Note, that, other than a jump in Medicare and Medicaid spending (in part due to the Republicans’ arm-twisting insistence on putting into law that Medicare cannot negotiate prescription drug prices), they are pretty comparable.

Thanks to Brian Beutler, over at Talking Points Memo (on the blogroll to the right) for this explanation.

I would note, as well, that Brian updates with the comment that readers point out Obama inherited a larger economy than Reagan did. True, but he also inherited a far larger recession, the deepest since the 1930s, than Reagan ever had to confront.

Oh, and Dr. Krugman drops his own penny into this conversation with this chart, showing relative spending levels after the trough of the recession, under Reagan and Obama:

I have my doubts as to whether, as Brian writes, the recovery “is in full gear,” not while unemployment is stubbornly high and new manufacturing jobs – the key to growth, in my view – are being created at lower wages than before. I would also hold off on this data portending “good things.” We’re far from out of the woods, yet.

For example, oil prices were falling in 1983, and would continue to do so, while in 2010, they were rising, and continue to do so, at a breath-taking pace. Perhaps this argues for the strength of the recovery, since it is occurring despite this rise, but I’d say the jury’s still out, and will be for awhile yet.

Nonetheless, this was an important contribution to the public debate.

Oh, re: prices, it appears the jury’s also still out on who Americans blame.



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