Conservatives at National Review endorse Clintonomics, sort of
It was only a matter of time before this happened. When Bill Clinton was president, his economic policies were condemned by conservatives as the worst ideas in the history of bad ideas.
When Clinton's 1993 budget was being considered — a budget that raised taxes on the wealthy and cut government spending — Republicans guaranteed that it was a recipe for disaster. Clinton's budget would increase the deficit, we were told. We'd suffer through a terrible recession, they promised. Unemployment would skyrocket, they predicted. Not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted for Clinton's budget; they were so certain his policies would fail.
Of course, none of the GOP's predictions actually happened. On the contrary, the economy grew during the Clinton years at an unprecedented rate. It was the longest and most robust economy on record. Unemployment dropped to record lows, the deficits disappeared and became the largest surpluses in American history. The stock market soared to record highs and U.S. experienced the strongest private-sector job growth since before WWII.
In other words, everything Republicans said about Clintonomics was wrong.
So here we are a few years later. Bush has brought a radically different economic policy to the federal government with a whole new set of predictions and promises. Unfortunately for everyone, the administration's guarantees of new jobs, robust growth, reduced debt, and low unemployment have been wrong again.
Yet conservatives continue to believe that tax cuts are the answer to every economic situation. Strong economy? We need tax cuts to keep the economy moving. Weak economy? Tax cuts will turn things around. Huge surplus? That means taxes are too high and we need to return money to the people. Huge deficits? Tax cuts will grow the economy, create jobs, and make the deficit disappear.
In his 1999 "autobiography," which is in quotes because he didn't write or read it, Bush said, "I do not support import fees." In announcing his presidential candidacy in June 1999, Bush said, "I'll work to end tariffs and break down barriers everywhere, entirely, so the whole world trades in freedom."
Despite these policies articulated before the election, Bush implemented sharp increases in tariffs — some as high as 30 percent — in March 2002.
All together now — more broken promises.
So to review, Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy, conservatives whined, and the economy soared. Bush cut taxes on the wealthy, conservatives cheered, and the economy tanked. Clinton supported free trade, cut tariffs, signed NAFTA, and conservatives hated him. Bush misled voters about his support for free trade, raised tariffs, and conservatives love him.