U.S. unemployment soared to 14.7 percent in April, the worst spike in job losses since the Great Depression. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 20.5 million people lost their jobs last month, and analysts believe it will take years for our economy to recover.
The unprecedented speed with which the economy has tanked is both self-imposed and unavoidable due to the global pandemic we are facing. The focus must now be on which presidential candidate is best positioned to nurse our flailing economy safely back to health in the face of unforeseen and extraordinary circumstances.
The weight and importance of that decision demands that voters educate themselves on what has happened in the past, the policies that have worked and those that have not. They must also consider which party has been more successful in creating jobs, growing the economy and the country’s GDP, and spurring business investments that lead to economic expansion.
The facts are clear: Over the past three decades, Democrats have been better stewards of healthy economies that have grown the middle class and created record numbers of jobs. Republicans, meanwhile, have presided over shrinking economies, massive job losses and diminished economic opportunities for Americans.
The numbers tell an undeniable story. In a new presentation by the progressive think tank NDN using statistics from the Bureau of Labor, data show that since 1989, Democrats (Presidents Clinton and Obama) in 16 years created almost 34 million jobs, while Republicans (Presidents H.W. Bush, G.W. Bush and Trump) in 15.5 years saw a net loss of more than 19 million jobs.
Some may object to including Trump in this comparison because of the unique nature of the job losses due to COVID-19. So, let’s simply compare the records prior to Trump. According to NDN’s ongoing analyses, since 1989 the two Democratic presidents (Clinton and Obama) oversaw strong and inclusive economic growth, while the two Republican presidents (H.W. Bush, and G.W. Bush) saw economic under-performance, decline and even recession.
This argument is not a new one. But it should be front and center now as we head into the all-important 2020 election. Voters face a critical decision based on who they believe is better prepared to put the country back on the road to recovery after a devastating blow.
Nobody is better positioned to do so than former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Biden to tap law professor who wants to 'end banking as we know it' as OCC chief: reports MORE, the man who helped guide the country out of the Great Recession back in 2009.
The argument about economic stewardship extends beyond job creation and GDP growth. It also makes for a tough comparison when it comes to both median income growth as well as the deficit, whose reduction Republicans once prioritized.
So how do the parties stack up? In this analysis, let’s include Trump’s first two years in office. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, growth in median income under the Clinton and the Obama administrations averaged 1.2 percent per year. But under the H.W. Bush, G.W. Bush and Trump administrations, median income suffered a decline of 0.4 percent per year.
The Republicans score even worse under the topic of deficit reduction. In the last 30 years, only President Clinton has been successful in providing the country with a budget surplus. He handed George W. Bush $500 billion, which was quickly squandered and led to the Great Recession. When you add H.W. Bush and Trump, all three recent Republican presidents increased the deficit by an average of 0.5 percent of GDP per year, while Clinton and Obama reduced it by an average of 0.4 percent of GDP per year.
In addition, according to Forbes, real business investment has been 193 percent higher under Democratic presidents.
The data clearly show that there are indisputable differences in terms of how Republicans and Democrats handle the economy.
You know who else agrees? Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE. Or at least he once did. He told Wolf Blitzer in 2004: “I’ve been around for a long time and it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.” For once, Trump told the truth!
For two generations, Democrats have taken flailing economies from Republican presidents and made them flourish again. Joe Biden should consistently argue that he is the most competent and best prepared candidate to take on the country’s economic challenges.
Maria Cardona is a longtime Democratic strategist and co-chair of the Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws committee for the party's 2020 convention. She is a principal at Dewey Square Group, a Washington-based political consulting agency, and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.