P.L.A. - A Journal of Politics, Law and Autism

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Friday, November 01, 2002
 
Required Reading

Eriposte has nicely summed up our Just for the Record series as well as CalPundit post and other information into an easy to read table. Please have a look.

Thursday, October 31, 2002
 
Just for the Record Part V

Inflation

In the Just for the Record series of posts, we look at various aspects of economic or fiscal performance for the forty-year period from 1962-2001. We chose 1962 for the starting point as it was the first budget submitted by President Kennedy. Thus, for our purposes, the Kennedy term runs from 1962-1965. The Johnson term runs from 1966-1969, etc. During the forty-year period, each party controlled the White House for a total of twenty years.

In Part I, we looked at the budget deficit. In Part II, we looked at the growth of non-defense employees of the federal government. In Part III, we looked at growth in GDP. In Part IV, we looked at unemployment. In this post, we look at inflation. We got our data here.


Kennedy 1962-1965
During the Kennedy years, the inflation rate as measured by the consumer price index (CPI, all urban consumers) was 1.0%, 1.3%, 1.3% and 1.6%, respectively. Those four years average an inflation rate of 1.3%.

Johnson 1966-1969
During the Johnson years, the inflation rate was 2.9%, 3.1%, 4.2% and 5.5%, respectively. Those four years average an inflation rate of 3.9%.

Nixon 1970-1977
During the Nixon (and Ford) years, the inflation rate was 5.7%, 4.4%, 3.2%, 6.2%, 11.0%, 9.1%, 5.8% and 6.5%, respectively. Those eight years average an inflation rate of 6.5%.

Carter 1978-1981
During the Carter years, the inflation rate was 7.6%, 11.3%, 13.5% and 10.3%, respectively. Those four years average an inflation rate of 10.7%.

Reagan 1982-1989
During the Reagan years, the inflation rate was 6.2%, 3.2%, 4.3%, 3.6%, 1.9%, 3.6%, 4.1% and 4.8%, respectively. Those eight years average an inflation rate of 4.0%.

Bush 1990-1993
During the Bush years, the inflation rate was 5.4%, 4.2%, 3.0% and 3.0%, respectively. Those four years average an inflation rate of 3.9%.

Clinton 1994-2001
During the Clinton years, the inflation rate was 2.6%, 2.8%, 3.0%, 2.3%, 1.6%, 3.2%, 3.4% and 2.8%, respectively. Those eight years average an inflation rate of 2.7%.

Conclusion
For the twenty years in which Republican presidents submitted a budget, the inflation rate averaged 4.96%.

For the twenty years in which Democratic presidents submitted a budget, the inflation rate averaged 4.26%.

Kevin Drum of CalPundit has looked at inflation rates by party of the President for the period from 1948 through 2001. He used “lag times” of 3, 4 and 5 years in assigning responsibility for economic performance to a President. In each case, inflation rate was lower in Democratic administrations than in Republican administrations.





Tuesday, October 29, 2002
 
Fruitcake for Dessert

We received an e-mail from NewsMax recently about the Washington snipers. In a display of very poor judgment, we decided to read it. This, in part, is what NewsMax said:
On Wednesday night, shortly before the capture of Muhammad and Malvo, Chief Moose acquiesced to the sniper's demand and read publicly a statement:

"You asked us to say, 'We have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose,' " Moose said, swallowing hard. "We understand that hearing us say this is important to you." ...

A caller to Ed Martin's talk radio program on WGY in Albany, N.Y., says if you take the first letter of each word in the phrase "like a duck in a noose." and exclude the last 'a', the acronym spells "L-A-D-I-N." Now, that's not exactly the way bin Laden's family name is commonly spelled, but Muhammad and Malvo apparently never won a spelling bee.


So, let's see. According to NewsMax, you take the first letter of each word of the message. The message was "we have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose.” That gives you WHCTSLADIAN. The secret decoder ring tells you to ignore the “WHCTS” and the last “A.” That leaves you with a misspelling of the name of the leader of Al Qaeda. How could we have missed that? Proof of a link between the snipers and Al Qaeda was there for all to see.

We have a secret message for NewsMax. A secret decoder ring is not required:

It Doesn’t Indicate Other Terrorist Sympathy.

Do you think that NewsMax can figure that out?


Monday, October 28, 2002
 
That’s Their Story and They’re Sticking To It

On September 7, 2002, President Bush met with Prime Minister Tony Blair concerning Iraq. After that meeting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair answered questions from the press. According to the White House transcripts, this exchange occurred:
Q Mr. President, can you tell us what conclusive evidence of any nuclear -- new evidence you have of nuclear weapons capabilities of Saddam Hussein?
THE PRESIDENT: We just heard the Prime Minister talk about the new report. I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied -- finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic -- the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need.

Dana Milbank wrote an article in the Washington Post suggesting that Mr. Bush’s statement was less than accurate. In particular, Mr. Milbank wrote as follows:
Last month, asked if there were new and conclusive evidence of Hussein's nuclear weapons capabilities, Bush cited a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency saying the Iraqis were "six months away from developing a weapon."…
[T]here was no such report by the IAEA…
The IAEA did issue a report in 1998, around the time weapons inspectors were denied access to Iraq for the final time, but the report made no such assertion. It declared: "Based on all credible information to date, the IAEA has found no indication of Iraq having achieved its program goal of producing nuclear weapons or of Iraq having retained a physical capability for the production of weapon-useable nuclear material or having clandestinely obtained such material." The report said Iraq had been six to 24 months away from nuclear capability before the 1991 Gulf War.

The White House took exception to the Washington Post article and responded with a letter to the editor by spokesman Ari Fleischer. In that letter Mr. Fleischer wrote:
True, the president stated that the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iraq could possess nuclear weapons in as few as six months. It was in fact the International Institute for Strategic Studies that issued the report concluding that Iraq could develop nuclear weapons in as few as six months. The source may be different, but the underlying fact remains the same, despite the story's declaration of the president's argument, once again, as "dubious, if not wrong."


The International Institute for Strategic Studies did in fact issue a report assessing Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. That report was issued on September 9, 2002.

The IISS report states as follows:
Our net assessment of the current situation is that:

· Iraq does not possess facilities to produce fissile material in sufficient amounts for nuclear weapons.
· It would require several years and extensive foreign assistance to build such fissile material production facilities.
· It could, however, assemble nuclear weapons within months if fissile material from foreign sources were obtained.
· It could divert domestic civil-use radioisotopes or seek to obtain foreign material for a crude radiological device.


Mr. Fleischer’s letter to the editor is remarkable for three reasons. First, it acknowledges that Mr. Bush’s reference to the IAEA report was factually inaccurate.

Secondly, to the extent that Mr. Fleischer’s letter is read to imply that Mr. Bush was correct but simply got the name of the organization issuing the report wrong, it is misleading. Mr. Bush spoke on September 7, 2002. The IISS issued its report on September 9, 2002. The IISS report had not been published when Mr. Bush made his comments.

Finally, Mr. Fleischer’s letter may be read as arguing that Mr. Bush got the substance right as the IISS report said that Iraq could “assemble nuclear weapons within months.” That position is also deceptive. The IISS report says that Iraq is able to build a nuclear weapon within months only if it obtains fissile material. That is a critical difference. We are only six months from winning the Masters if we suddenly acquire Tiger Wood’s swing and putting stroke.

If Mr. Bush’s position is that we should invade Iraq because if they acquire fissile material they could build nuclear weapons within six months, he should say so in his much admired plainspoken Texas style. To say that Iraq could develop nuclear weapons within six months and omit the qualification that they must also acquire fissile material is to deceive by omission. Some might regard it as positively Clintonian.

Mr. Bush may have been simply mistaken when he spoke on September 7. If so, he failed in his obligation to get his facts straight. If he was mistaken, he should not have his press secretary compound the error by sending a deceptive letter to the editor.

The above-described episode hardly restores honor and dignity to the White House.


Sunday, October 27, 2002
 
Just for the Record Part IV

Unemployment


In the Just for the Record series of posts we look at various aspects of economic or fiscal performance for the forty-year period from 1962-2001. We chose 1962 for the starting point as it was the year in which President Kennedy submitted his first budget. Thus, for our purposes, the Kennedy term runs from 1962-1965. The Johnson term runs from 1966-1969 etc. During the forty-year period, each party controlled the White House for a total of twenty years.



In Part I, we looked at the budget deficit. In Part II we looked at the growth of non-defense employees of the federal government. In Part III, we looked at growth in GDP. In this post we look at unemployment. We got our data here.



Kennedy 1962-1965
During the Kennedy years the unemployment rate was 5.5%, 5.7%, 5.2% and 4.5%, respectively. Those four years average an unemployment rate of 5.2%.



Johnson 1966-1969
During the Johnson years the unemployment rate was 3.8%, 3.8%, 3.6% and 3.5%, respectively. Those four years average an unemployment rate of 3.7%.



Nixon 1970-1977
During the Nixon (and Ford) years the unemployment rate was 4.9%, 5.9%, 5.6%, 4.9%, 5.6%, 8.5%, 7.7% and 7.1% respectively. Those eight years average an unemployment rate of 6.3%.



Carter 1978-1981
During the Carter years the unemployment rate was 6.1%, 5.8%, 7.1% and 7.6% respectively. Those four years average an unemployment rate of 6.7%.



Reagan 1982-1989
During the Reagan years the unemployment rate was 9.7%, 9.6%, 7.5%, 7.2%, 7.0%, 6.2%, 5.5%, and 5.3% respectively. Those eight years average an unemployment rate of 7.3%.



Bush 1990-1993
During the Bush years the unemployment rate was 5.6%, 6.8%, 7.5% and 6.9% respectively. Those four years average an unemployment rate of 6.7%.



Clinton 1994-2001
During the Clinton years the unemployment rate was 6.1%, 5.6%, 5.4%, 4.9%, 4.5%, 4.2%, 4.0% and 4.8%, respectively. Those eight years average an unemployment rate of 4.9%.



Conclusion
For the twenty years in which Republican Presidents submitted a budget, the unemployment rate averaged 6.75%.


For the twenty years in which Democratic Presidents submitted a budget, the unemployment rate averaged 5.1%.



Kevin Drum of CalPundit has looked at unemployment rates by party of the President for the period from 1948 through 2001. He used “lag times” of 3, 4 and 5 years in assigning responsibility for economic performance to a President. In each case, unemployment was lower in Democratic administrations than in Republican administrations.



 
Just for the Record Part III

Economic Growth


In the Just for the Record series of posts we look at various aspects of economic or fiscal performance for the forty-year period from 1962-2001. We chose 1962 for the starting point as it was the first year for which President Kennedy submitted a budget. Thus, for our purposes, the Kennedy term runs from 1962-1965. The Johnson term runs from 1966-1969 etc. During the forty-year period, each party controlled the White House for a total of twenty years.

In Part I, we looked at the budget deficit. In Part II we looked at the growth of non-defense employees of the federal government. In this post we look at the growth of GDP. We got our data here.


Kennedy 1962-1965
The economy grew each year of the Kennedy “term" by rates of 6.0%, 4.3%, 5.8% and 6.4%, respectively. Those four years average 5.6% GDP growth.

Johnson 1966-1969
The economy grew each year of the Johnson “term” by rates of 6.6%, 2.5%, 4.8% and 3.0%, respectively. Those four years average 4.2% GDP growth.

Nixon 1970-1977
The economy grew in six of the eight Nixon (and Ford) years and fell in two years. The percentage growth for each of those years is 0.2%, 3.3%, 5.4%, 5.8%, -0.6%, -0.4%, 5.6% and 4.6%, respectively. The average of those eight years is 2.3% GDP growth.

Carter 1978-1981
The economy grew in three of the four Carter years. The percent change in GDP for those years is 5.5%. 3.2% -0.2% and 2.5% respectively. The average of those years is 2.8% GDP growth.

Reagan 1982-1989
The economy grew in seven of the eight Reagan years. The percent change in GDP for those years is –2.0%, 4.3%, 7.3%, 3.8%, 3.4%, 3.4%, 4.2% and 3.5%, respectively. The average of those years is 3.5% GDP growth.

Bush 1990-1993
The economy grew in three of the four Bush years. The percent change in GDP for those years is 1.8%, -0.5%, 3.0% and 2.7%, respectively. The average of those years is 1.8% GDP growth.

Clinton 1994-2001
The economy grew in each of the eight Clinton years by the following percentages, 4.0%, 2.7%, 3.6%, 4.4%, 4.2%, 4.9%, 3.8% and 0.3%, respectively. The average for those years is 3.5% GDP growth.


Conclusion
The economy grew in 19 of the 20 years in which Democratic Presidents submitted a budget and in 16 of the 20 years in which Republican Presidents submitted a budget.

For the twenty years for which Republican presidents submitted budgets, the average rate of GDP growth was 2.94%.

For the twenty years in which Democratic presidents submitted budgets, the average rate of GDP growth was 3.92%.

Kevin Drum of CalPundit has looked at economic growth by party of the President for the period from 1948 through 2001. He used “lag times” of 3, 4 and 5 years in assigning responsibility for economic performance to a President. In each case, economic growth was higher in Democratic administrations than in Republican administrations.