Once More, With Feeling

All of this has happened before; all of this will happen again.

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for the bygone days of 1993, which up until last month was the last time a Democratic president took office accompanied by Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

After campaigning for a year and a half decrying “the worst economy in the last 50 years”–despite the fact that the mild recession of 1990-91 actually ended in March of ‘91–one of Bill Clinton’s first priorities was to try and ram through (wait for it) a “stimulus package.” Back in those days, politicians hadn’t yet realized that they could add another three zeroes to their raids on everybody else’s pockets, so the Clinton bill was by today’s outlandish standards relatively modest, starting at a mere $30 billion dollars. Most of that was sold as “targeted stimulus,” which meant it was carefully targeted to pay off Democratic grandees and constituencies that had contributed to the 1992 campaign

All of this has happened before; all of this will happen again.

Things did not go all that swimmingly for the Clinton “stimulus” package. By the middle of February, the bill had stalled in the Senate thanks to a Republican filibuster, and the White House sent out its chief economic advisor, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, to warn of the wonderful results should this recalcitrance end:

“The administration estimates that the stimulus package, taken by itself, will add about 0.3 percent to the annual growth rates of real gross domestic project in 1993 and 1994, creating 500,000 additional jobs by the end of 1994,” Tyson said. She forecast economic growth of 3.1 percent this year and 3.3 percent in 1994 if the package is approved.

The Clinton “stimulus” bill failed, going down to final defeat on April 22, 1993. It was never revived. As we all know, the American economy never recovered–oh, wait, that’s not correct. A year later, despite the non-presence of a federal “stimulus” law, unemployment had dropped from 7.1% to to 6.6%. Tyson’s growth prediction was not quite correct, either; the US GDP positively boomed in the fourth quarter of 1993 to the tune of 5.5%, and rose by 4% in 1994–all without the help of Clinton’s “stimulus” package.

The boom accelerated in the second half of the decade, with the greatest gains being realized from 1995 onwards–after the Democrats had been swept out of Congressional power, and as a result, Clinton’s penchants for tax hikes and big spending packages were effectively neutered. There were no grand “stimulus” packages from that point on, only good, old-fashioned gridlock that kept the government from raising taxes or spending to outrageous excess.

All of this has happened before… and if we’re very lucky, all of this will happen again.

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