Jeb Bush, in a new Wall Street Journal op-ed, writes about on his plan to "unleash" 4 percent annual GDP growth. This would be difficult, and in fact, we have written about how difficult it would be before. Below, a post from February.
In the first major policy speech of his basically-but-not-yet-formalized campaign for the Republican nomination in 2016, former Florida governor Jeb Bush established a very ambitious economic goal: 4 percent annual GDP growth. Over the last 30 years, that's been achieved seven times -- none of them under a president named "Bush."
We pulled data from the Federal Reserve to show how ambitious that goal actually is. The green dotted line indicates the 4 percent mark; we've colored the bars according to the party of the president. And we've highlighted the previous presidents Bush.
That's year-over-year, from one January to the next. GDP data is released quarterly, and in several quarters both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush oversaw GDP growth over 4 percent. On average, though, each fell short -- substantially. The last president to average over 4 percent growth was Lyndon Johnson.
For what it's worth, Bush's proposal was still relatively modest compared to a goal offered by one of 2012's contenders. That year, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty proposed 5 percent GDP growth -- something he called a "big, positive goal." Which it was. It was also all-but-unattainable. The boom years under Reagan and Clinton averaged under 5 percent. Since 1970, it's happened five times.
By that metric, Jeb Bush's own big, positive goal is also downright simple.