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Presidents and Economic Growth

Does prior business experience help Presidents with job creation and economic growth? A look at recent history.

My Uncle Bob is a funny guy.  He seldom reads, preferring to get his information from talk radio and Fox News.  Despite often times irrefutable evidence to the contrary, he’s hell-bent on believing what he wants to believe.  For example, Uncle Bob thinks President Obama is not a United States citizen.  Oh, and our President is a Muslim!

Call me a masochist, but I rather enjoy discussing, OK arguing, politics with Uncle Bob.  A few days ago, we were on the topic of who would be a better president over the next four years.  Uncle Bob, voice raised, says, “Of course Romney would be better.  Any moron should know that!  He’s got lots of business experience.  That Obama guy never owned a business.”

I guess Uncle Bob believes, that because Romney himself has touted his business experience a zillion times since he began running for president eight years ago, it must be true.  It’s beyond me how anyone could consider “dismembering acquired companies and throwing folks out of work” business experience, but apparently some people do.  Uncle Bob sure does.   

Well, l had to admit that the economy was still in the doldrums from the worst crash since the Great Depression.  I knew it would do little good for me to explain how President Obama inherited an economic mess, and things were slowly getting better.  Been there, done that, FAILED.  Anyway, Uncle Bob got me wondering whether prior business experience really gives a president a “one up” when it comes to guiding our nation’s economy?  So, I did some research and what I found was rather interesting.

I couldn’t wait to share my results with Uncle Bob.  So, I go over to his house, and even before we went through the usual perfunctory greeting, I say to him, “Do you know we’ve had ten presidents since 1960?  Of those, only three had any business experience prior to taking office: Jimmy Carter (peanut farm owner), George H. W. Bush (oil business), and George W. Bush (oil business and co-owner of the Texas Rangers).  Since 1960, the GDP grew the most under the three administrations of President Kennedy (5.66%), President Johnson (4.24%) and President Clinton (3.64%).  The slowest growth occurred during the administrations of President Carter (2.72%), President George H.W. Bush (1.96%) and George W. Bush (1.42%).  Hum, so much for business experience!  Even Mitt Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts belies your ‘a businessman is best theory.’  During that time, Massachusetts’ job growth was 47th in the nation, it had the 2nd largest labor force decline in the nation, and it lost 14% of its manufacturing jobs.”

I was pretty proud of myself and thought I had Uncle Bob just where I wanted him.   He looks at me dumbfounded and utters, “Governor Romney should be president because he’s got business experience!”  Uncle Bob’s a funny guy!

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Jeff Mayo-Yurek October 26, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Reminds me of my Uncle Mike!
Mark Paxson October 27, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Dan ... thanks for posting this. You've pretty much hit the nail on the head ... there's this group of people who have abandoned facts and reality. And, no, M. Legison, that group is not the Democrats, progressives, liberals, or whatever you want to call them.
Racerx Gto October 27, 2012 at 06:22 AM
Ah, so Uncle Bob is not an 'enlightened one'. Tell us how Zer0 inherited a AAA credit rated nation and collapsed it down to a AA rating is a good thing. Tell us again, how printing money out of thin air in three quantitative easings with a possible QE4 is going to help the middle class, let alone the financial standing of the USA's world reserve currency. At least Uncle Bob doesn't tune into Mike Malloy. Amusing opinion piece. Here's an undisputed reality; the problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people's money. As with the Soviet Union, the European Union is coming undone. Before long, the socialized areas of the USA will follow suit. Democrats do not deliver people out of poverty, they ensure that people stay there. http://www.cnbc.com/id/49564413/Europe_s_Poor_Ask_for_Food_Aid_as_Crisis_Bites
Bwood October 27, 2012 at 03:07 PM
What are the "socialized areas" of the USA?
Dan Schmitt October 27, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Bwood, Let me answer for Racerx Gto. Well, we've got the best military in the world. We have police and fire protection second to none. We've got the best freeway and road system in the world. We've got social security and medicare (my 94-year old father is very thankful for those). We've got public education that serves us all. All of those "areas" can be considered at least partly socialistic, and I'm damn thankful for that!
M.Legison October 27, 2012 at 09:03 PM
It is Romney's successful executive experience in both the public and private sectors, not "business experience," that is largely responsible for his momentum, along with documented ability to work across the aisle. Obama can lay no claim to either of these attributes.
Bwood October 27, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Agreed, Dan, but then, what are the UNsocialized areas?
Bwood October 28, 2012 at 03:48 AM
The devil is in the details.. http://www.romneytaxplan.com/
Alicia Chatman October 30, 2012 at 01:03 AM
This is hilarious. Great share. I know so many like this.
Bwood October 30, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Mark, maybe we should call them Zomneys… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TiXUF9xbTo&feature=player_embedded
M.Legison October 30, 2012 at 03:07 PM
That is funny, regardless of who you support. Do you think it will work, especially when Obama has not presented any plan except his tired "divide and conquer" and "soak the rich?" Maybe! Maybe Romney's support from nearly every demographic except for minorities and lower income and low education voters will fade this week. Could be! Maybe Obama's likeability deficit will magically close, and Americans will go to the polls, shrug off the documented lies about Libya, and his economic and social divisiveness and class warfare, and decide to embrace the failed experiment. Hang in there, Demos.
John Q October 30, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Speaking of 'plans' how about Romney's plan to gut FEMA? And let the states pick up the pieces on their own after disasters? Wouldn't that be something after the latest evidence of man made climate change? Talk about severe disconnect....but then he is the standard bearer for the 1% and their water carriers.
M.Legison October 30, 2012 at 07:37 PM
It's a shame the progressives have to craft up yet another fabrication, rather than acknowledge the actual statements from Romney. But---that's what you people do in your desperation. If interested, and I doubt that you are when you've got the fact challenged left media screaming about "gutting FEMA," here's a good rundown from ABC. Clearly no one is advocating not having a disaster fund. Some are concerned about its misuse by Obama and prefer to direct the funds locally. http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/Politics/romney-cut-fema-president/story?id=17589353&page=2#.UJArFbS25U0
John Q October 30, 2012 at 10:40 PM
What's a shame is the intellectual dishonesty from the right; afraid to admit their 'leaders' are wrong on the issues and instead try to obfuscate and hide from the truth. Funny you don't mention that the Ryan budget, adopted by Romney, will have to cut all federal funding not directly related to entitlements; stuff like FEMA. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said last August that Ryan's budget would dump the cost of dealing with disasters on state and local governments. I suppose that's a fabrication?
Dan Schmitt October 31, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Bwood, Sorry, I'm a tad late on this response. I'm not sure there are any completely Unsocialized areas in our society. If you look at a political/economic spectrum, with say communism on the far left and unfettered free enterprise on the far right, I think a case could be made that most elements of our society are a combination of free markets and government involvement. There may be examples of unfettered capitalism, but I can't think of any. HELP, HELP!
M.Legison October 31, 2012 at 01:22 AM
One--Romney is not using Ryan's budget, and no one is suggesting that FEMA be cut without a superior replacement Two--Center on Budget yada is highly partisan. Do you quote Huffington Post, the Tax Policy Center, or thinkprogress.org as "fact" as well? Three--grow up and learn the difference between real facts, opinion, and partisan "facts"
John Q October 31, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Typical response to reality by a right wing sycophant, trying to invent alternate universes when faced with facts. Get over yourself and see if you can't buy some integrity...it hasn't worked for Romney but you might get lucky.
Dan Schmitt October 31, 2012 at 01:46 PM
M.Legison, Of course someone is suggesting (or had suggested in the past) that FEMA be cut without superior replacement (OK, I'll admit the last part is opinion). In past speeches, Romney has suggested the federal government get out of the emergency response/recovery business. He thinks (now, he's changing his mind on this issue like he's changed his mind on just about every important issue) the states can do it better. And, he's suggested that the private sector could do it even better! Ya, right. Tell that to all the Hurricane Katrina victims! So, M.Legison, do you think turning emergency response/recovery would be better handled by the states like Romney dies?
Dan Schmitt October 31, 2012 at 01:49 PM
M.Legison, My apologies. I hit the "submit" prior to proofreading my previous posting. Try this one. Of course someone is suggesting (or had suggested in the past) that FEMA be cut without superior replacement (OK, I'll admit the last part is opinion). In past speeches, Romney has suggested the federal government get out of the emergency response/recovery business. He thinks (now, he's changing his mind on this issue like he's changed his mind on just about every important issue) the states can do it better. And, he's suggested that the private sector could do it even better! Ya, right. Tell that to all the Hurricane Katrina victims! So, M.Legison, do you think emergency response/recovery would be better handled by the states like Romney does? How about the private sector?
Bwood October 31, 2012 at 03:13 PM
"Get over yourself and see if you can't buy some integrity...it hasn't worked for Romney but you might get lucky." Don't count on it, John..
M.Legison October 31, 2012 at 03:30 PM
FEMA has been plagued with inefficiencies and has become a political tool. No one will forget the Katrina debacle when their was virtually no state response or preparedness yet FEMA did not act until days after Bush authorized the state request (on the same day requested by the states). Compare the Obama response to Sandy (Democratic/battleground states) to the Gulf oil spill (Republican states). Even Carville was screaming as it took Obama weeks to react. It is essentially tax payer funded self insurance, and that can certainly in part be reallocated to the states. As far as private response, private industry can do almost if not everything government can do, however that doesn't mean they should. I doubt anyone would advocate for a complete elimination of a federal response agency, however decreasing their oversight with reallocation to states is an action to be strongly considered. That is what Romney was suggesting, nothing more.
John Q October 31, 2012 at 05:20 PM
During the primary debate, when King interjected and asked Romney this question: “Including disaster relief, though?” Romney replied: “We cannot – we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids..' It doesn't get much clearer than to state 'we cannot do those things...' when the question of disaster relief was posed to the ultimate flip flopper. But I guess when you see things through a perversely skewed prism up is down and down is up.
M.Legison October 31, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Nice try, Captain Parse. From Yahoo News: At a GOP primary debate in June 2011, Romney, when asked about FEMA's budget woes and how he would deal with it, had said, "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better." During that debate, the moderator, CNN's John King, had gone on to ask if that included "disaster relief." Romney suggested it did. The Center for American Progress, a liberal group, called attention to Romney's remarks in an email to reporters on Sunday. Asked for clarification today, Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said the GOP nominee wasn't implying he would get rid of FEMA, but rather that he simply wants states to play a greater role in disaster response.
John Q October 31, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Apparently reading comprehension is not a strong suite, what a surprise. Facts are not in dispute, Romney wanted to do away with any federal disaster aid before he was for it, just like every other issue he's embraced before he ran away from it. Keeping in character we now find him lying to voters in Ohio, and that he refuses to stop lying even after being called on his lies by GM, Chrysler, and even other conservatives. (Of course they're not real conservatives, since they are not as divorced from reality as you and the Romney Ryan ticket are.)
M.Legison November 02, 2012 at 11:05 PM
This is what happens when the Democrats work to keep an underclass down and dependent upon their party, simply to keep them on the plantation and voting for government domination and subsistence. They become incapable of thinking for and helping themselves when government fails. Of course, that is the plan, cruel as it may be. http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video/#!/news/local/Stranded-New-Yorker--People-Are-Defecating-in-the-Hallways/177007621
John Q November 03, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Speaking of keeping a class down, how are you conservatives doing with the gender gap just before the election? Got your vaginal probes all lubed up and ready to go? Anxiously waiting for the chance to stack the supreme court with 18th century legal wizards who will toss Roe v. Wade? Licking your chops in anticipation of bringing thousands of unwanted children into the world so you can direct them to their boot straps and demand they start pulling them while at the same time you tell their mothers 'no birth control for you?'
Franklin November 03, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I didn't read all the comments (26 is a lot of comments). But I did want to compliment you on your blog. You made it humorous and interesting (the fact that I think I agree with you notwithstanding). Good blog post.
M.Legison November 03, 2012 at 03:59 PM
John you are a funny lad. Where in the world do you get these things? There is no war on women. There are no plans to "overthrow" Roe v Wade. There are no plans to restrict anyone from paying $9 per month for birth control. There may be a plan to provide it free to Democrats, however.
John Q November 03, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Gosh M., I knew there were low information voters about, but I had no idea some, like you, were that clueless about their world. You might want to check out from Faux News at least now and then, just to re-acclimate yourself with reality.

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