Playing off the national referendum in which a clear majority of Greeks decided that the risk of expulsion from the euro zone was preferable to responsible economic policy, Jeb Bush takes on the Obama-Clinton economy with a new moniker:
Barack Obama’s policies have given us a zombie economy where no matter what else happens, most Americans are falling behind. Last week we got news that the share of Americans at work or looking for work is at a 38-year low. More than 6 million people are working part-time jobs when they’d prefer full-time. Roughly 5.5 million more Americans are living in poverty than when Obama came to office. More Americans believe that the economy is getting worse than those who think it’s getting better – and that’s been true for several months running.
Now comes Hillary Clinton, and her economic agenda could be summarized easily: Whatever Obama is doing, let’s double down on it.
Most GOP presidential candidates will employ a similar critique of the Democrats’ domestic policies. The differentiation will come in the type and concreteness of their alternatives. Bush gives a road map for where he is going. On Obamacare, he says: “I will work to repeal and replace this job-killing law with reforms that will encourage the private sector to lower costs and to innovate. American households purchasing coverage on their own or people who want to start their own businesses should receive tax relief for more portable, quality coverage. Competition, transparency and individual control will help drive down costs and improve the quality of care.” More vaguely, he promises to “introduce pro-growth policies that support workers trying to find a job, businesses trying to grow, entrepreneurs trying to get an idea off the ground and free markets that are trying to meet demand.” And as candidates with less successful job records (or no record at all) get into the race, Bush flashes his Florida credentials: “Thanks to pro-growth policies Florida’s economy took off and we ended up leading the nation in small business creation. 81,000 new small businesses created a state economy that produced 1.3 million new jobs, the most in the nation from 2000-2007. Florida averaged 4.4 percent growth during my governorship. Our unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent and middle class incomes increased by $1,300.”
Critics will say Florida benefited from the unsustainable real estate boom, but Florida also benefited from a boom in “business- and health-related services, as well as tourism-related services such as restaurants, bars and hotels and motels.” And with businesses moving to Florida, the population increased by more than 4 million. Whether that sort of virtuous economic cycle — new business start-ups and investment beget more consumers and investors, who in turn fuel more growth — is repeatable on a national level remains to be seen. But so long as Clinton talks in meaningless soundbites, offering no alternative growth plan (increasing debt is not a growth plan, as Greece found out), that’s an appealing formula. Bush is not the only one to make the case (see Texas), but he is one of the few in the race who applied it with success.