As I recently wrote in my Forbes.com column, “Presidential elections are about, above all, just two things: our security and our prosperity.” The GOP candidates have been emphatic about our national security, about which more in a bit.
All of them strangely have been pretty quiet about our prosperity. Getting the economy moving again deserves, now, to be the top issue. Ted Cruz has offered the most Reaganesque plan for getting us robust growth. Cruz laid out a solid, credible, prosperity plan. He presented his Flat Tax and, most important, staked out a credible recipe for excellent monetary policy: the gold standard.
Cruz references these. He’ll defend them. He’s committed to them. But, like the others, he’s not been featuring either the prosperity theme or his solid plan.
All the candidates have addressed the economy. Yet they aren’t campaigning on economic growth. Jeb Bush launched his campaign with a rousing promise to get economic growth up to no less than 4%. Jeb! never backed it up with a credible plan. He soon drifted off to speak of other matters.
As campaign manager James Carville once advised candidate Bill Clinton (on getting word that Clinton had drifted in his stump speech into nuclear non-proliferation — about which Carville said to Bob Shrum “There wasn’t one goddamn vote in it!”): “It’s the economy, stupid!”
America has been mired in what I have called a “Little Dark Age” of economic stagnation for about 15 years. We’ve been growing, on average, at a rate of under 2% a year both under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. That’s really poor. America under President Reagan, after his wringing inflation out of the system, and President Clinton enjoyed 4% growth and massive job creation. Since those days economic growth has been punk.
When you compound a 2+% shortfall a year over 15 years it means that the American economy — and each of our paychecks and net worth — is somewhere between 25% and 50% lower than it otherwise would have been. That’s a very big deal indeed. Wouldn’t you like your paycheck to be 25%, even 50%, fatter? Most voters would. Bonus: 4% economic growth quickly would eliminate the federal deficit and put Uncle Sam back into surplus (as under Clinton).
So what’s causing this “Little Dark Age?”
Ralph Benko, internationally published weekly columnist, co-author of The 21st Century Gold Standard, lead co-editor of the Gerald Malsbary translation from Latin to English of Copernicus’s Essay on Money, is American Principles Project’s Senior Advisor, Economics.