By the Numbers: Democrats are Better for the Economy

Not long before Wall Street cratered, economist Alan Blinder published a piece in the New York Times’ business section that compared McCain’s and Obama’s economic plans. In the piece, Blinder argues that “the United States economy has grown faster, on average, under Democratic presidents than under Republicans.”

… his conclusion is based on data from 1948 to 2007, in case you were wondering. The data comes from a new book, “Unequal Democracy,” by Princeton professor Larry Bartels, which calculates a 1.14-point difference in gross national product per year between Democratic and Republican administrations.

“That 1.14-point difference, if maintained for eight years, would yield 9.33 percent more income per person, which is a lot more than almost anyone can expect from a tax cut,” Blinder says.

About two weeks later, Slate.com picked up the exact same theme, only they used the annual Economic Report of the President, and concluded, “what these numbers show almost beyond doubt is that Democrats are better at virtually every economic task that is important to Republicans.”

What numbers are those? Percent change in GDP, inflation, unemployment, federal spending (yes, Demos are lower!), and surplus vs. deficit. The only place the Repubs are better? Taxes, by a paltry 17.97 to 18.4.

If you’re going to vote with your pocketbook, you might start by having a look at these two articles.

Republicans Call Walking “Wacky,” Will Soon Have SUVs for Legs

Kathy Dahlkemper is a Democrat running for Congress in Pennsylvania. Republicans ran this ad about her recently, saying she has “wacky” ideas.

Rethuglicans say she has “wacky” ideas like opposing suspending the gas tax.

Why the gas tax is a bad idea: in addition to stimulating demand for gas, it would have been an “administrative nightmare” for the IRS and taxpayers themselves, and it would have crippled the highway trust fund used for infrastructure improvements. Oh, and it was a paltry amount of savings to begin with, only 18.4 cents per gallon … I’m sorry, what was the wacky idea again?

Her next “wacky” idea is to oppose domestic oil drilling. How wacky is it? Let’s have a look:

Hmm. That’s a just a drop in the gas tank, isn’t it? It would be a real industrial blight on the environment, though. And that’s worth something, isn’t it? What about non-offshore drilling? But you might suggest that oil companies start with the 30 million acres of leased land they already have and ignore.

“Dahlkemper’s wacky solution? She says we should make personal sacrifices, like walking places, and riding bikes.”

How wacky is walking?

  • walking slows aging
  • walking builds aerobic fitness
  • walking prevents diseases like colds
  • walking helps manage weight
  • walking walking controls blood pressure
  • walking boosts good cholesterol
  • walking decreases risk of heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, hip fracture, gallstone surgery, depression, colon, constipation, osteoporosis, and impotence
  • walking strengthens muscles and bones
  • walking improves sleep

… that’s why wacky organizations like the AARP recommend it.

And my personal favorite, that cycling is wacky. Since cycling is exercise, it also improves health and fitness in just about every way mentioned above. Here are some other fun tidbits:

“According to the Department of Transport, study people who do not exercise who start cycling move from the third of the population who are the least fit, to the fittest half of the population in just a few months.” Wacky.

“There can also be indirect benefits in terms of reducing injuries from falls, which can be seriously disabling, especially in older people. The strength and co-ordination that regular cycling brings make them less likely.”

And my personal favorite: “If you are worried about traffic fumes, there may be no need. Cyclists and pedestrians actually absorb lower levels of pollutants from traffic fumes than car drivers.

Lemme repeat: less fumes. Wacky indeed.

So tell me again: why is health a “sacrifice”? Oh yeah—because you can’t be healthy while driving your SUV? No, wait.

Phil English. Dude, get on your bike!

Phil English. Dude, get on your bike!

That’s Kathy Dahlkemper’s opponent, Phil English. Should I even mention how much walking and cycling would benefit him? No, better not. Too wacky.

PS – Right after I finished this post, I saw that Colin Beavan’s excellent post, “Do cars make us fat?” Check it out, especially the great graphic!