Presidents and Jobs
By Arnold Kling
How many jobs can a President create? Former Clinton Administration economist Jeffrey Frankel says that “The answers don’t fit into a stump speech.” He writes,
[The Democratic Presidential candidate’s] proposals are good economics, and they come by their populist ring honestly in that the current system is letting corporations get away with too much. But Kerry cannot claim that these reforms by themselves will be enough to bring back the 2.2 million jobs lost under Bush.
Not that Bush’s tax policies should be blamed for the 2.2 million lost jobs. The recession began two months after he took office, before he had had a chance to do much damage. As convenient as it would be for the Democrats to be able to claim that Bush fiscal policies caused the weak economy of the last three years, good economic logic does not support that contention. If anything, Bush’s tax cuts, leaving aside their Robin-Hood-in-reverse character, might have moderated the economic slowdown. It’s hard to give away a couple of trillion dollars without having some stimulus effect on the economy.
Regardless of who is President from 2005-2008, it is reasonable to expect that the economy will add about 200,000 jobs a month, or rougly 10 million jobs overall. Kerry’s boast that his economic program will create 10 million jobs is comparable to a rooster’s boast that its crowing will make the sun come up. See Economic Attribution Errors.
For Discussion. Is it the fault of the public, the politicians, or economists that reasonable economic analysis seems incompatible with the typical stump speech?