Washington Secrets

80-year study: Democrats better at economics

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Columnists

When it comes to which party is better for the economy, Republicans talk the talk, but it's Democrats who deliver the goods according to an unusual 80-year study of the impact presidents have on growth, personal wealth, the stock market and even 401ks.

The bottom line, according to Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box: Of the five best economic presidents since Herbert Hoover, only one is a Republican. The paydirt finding: $100,000 invested during the 40 years Republicans had the White House would be worth $126,027. The same amount invested in the stock market during the Democrat's 40 years would be $3,912,210.

"Our book is a myth buster," said financial planner Bob Deitrick who co-authored Bulls, Bears with CPA and educator Lew Goldfarb.

Goldfarb blamed the conventional wisdom that Republican presidents are better economic managers on the inability of Democrats to tell their story. "Democrats stand on their message so poorly," he said. "Republicans, on the other hand, win the salesmanship merit badge every single year."

The duo stumbled on their conclusions while working on a different issue. Researching the impact of politics on stock market trends, Deitrick realized that in the last 80 years, Democrats and Republicans have held the White House 40 years each, minus President Obama's term. They came up with a ranking system based on stock market returns, personal income, economic growth and business prosperity.

The best period was during the Kennedy-Johnson years, the worst Herbert Hoover, who presided over the Great Depression. In order, the rankings are: JFK/LBJ, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford, George W. Bush, and Hoover. Carter was the only Democrat in the bottom half of the list.

Theirs is a non-political book that also suggests that the Democrats have been luckier than the Republicans. Just consider that George H.W. Bush had a flat economy that was starting to surge when Clinton was elected and it roared during his term. By the time George W. Bush took over, the Clinton-era internet bubble had popped and he started two wars. For example, they write, $100,000 invested in 1993 was worth $341,894 at the end of Clinton's term. Under Bush, that $100,000 was worth $64,990 after his eight years, a difference of $277,000.

The authors omit President Obama because his four years aren't over, but they paint a conflicted economic picture of his years in office.

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