We have experienced relatively long periods of 4 percent or more economic growth. Following the Kennedy tax cuts, the economy averaged 5.2 percent yearly growth between 1963 and 1969. After the Reagan tax rates fully went into effect, alongside Paul Volcker’s conquering of inflation, the economy grew at 4.5 percent annually between 1982 and 1989. These were the “seven fat years,” so named by former Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley. And between 1994 and 1999, the Bill Clinton/Newt Gingrich economy increased 4.3 percent annually, after welfare reform, NAFTA trade, and cap-gains tax relief.
So we’ve got six-year, seven-year, and five-year periods — all in recent memory — when the American economy beat 4 percent. And for nearly all the post-World War II period, dating from 1947 to 2007 (before the meltdown), the U.S. economy actually grew 3.4 percent annually. And 3.4 percent is not so far from 4 percent. It’s maybe only a few pro-growth policy changes away. Why wouldn’t we try?
So Jeb Bush’s 4-percent target is both aspirational and doable. It sets an important policy marker for the coming election. The whole GOP should adopt the target. Let the skeptics scoff. Positive solutions are grounds for optimism. And Americans will respond favorably to this kind of optimistic leadership — which is sorely lacking today.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore