Jeb Bush

Give Jeb Bush Some Credit

The GOP presidential hopeful has ignited a debate about economic growth.


Give Jeb Bush some credit: he's ignited a lively debate that positions himself and the Republican Party in the pro-growth camp.

My only qualm is that, with his 4 percent target, he's perpetuating what his brother George W. might call the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

In case you missed it, Jeb Bush, announcing his entry into the presidential campaign, named the number. "So many challenges could be overcome if we just get this economy growing at full strength. There is not a reason in the world why we cannot grow at a rate of four percent a year," he said. "And that will be my goal as president—four percent growth, and the 19 million new jobs that come with it."

The 4 percent number was greeted with immediate derision from the left, which ridiculed it as excessively ambitious. The New York Times' "Upshot" department, edited by the same genius who was warning back in August of 2011 that "stocks are still expensive" (the index he was writing about is up 75 percent since then) ran out an article under the headline "Economists on Bush's Promise: Close to 0 Percent Chance of 4 Percent Growth." It earnestly reported that "even right-of-center economists I spoke with had trouble sketching a path to 4 percent for Mr. Bush."

The Times followed up with an opinion column by its Nobel laureate economist, Paul Krugman, who called the 4 percent growth target "irresponsible" and "voodoo economics," describing it as worse than a false promise of a weight-loss cure featuring neither diet nor exercise.

Politico, for its part, trotted out a news article by Timothy Noah. Noah is the author of a 2012 book, The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It, that called for increasing the top federal tax rate on income and capital gains to 70 percent. A review in the Nation said the book also "stresses the importance of electing Democratic presidents." Noah's news article said Bush's 4 percent growth was "a goal that many economists regard as ambitious at best and most likely unrealistic for any lengthy sustained period."

The defense of Bush's growth goal came from the right. Lawrence Kudlow pointed out that the economy averaged 5.2 percent growth from 1963 to 1969, 4.5 percent between 1982 and 1989, and 4.3 percent between 1994 and 1999. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, the dean of Columbia Business School, Glenn Hubbard, and a former Federal Reserve governor, Kevin Warsh, reported that "The average growth rate was 4% or higher 17 times in the rolling four-year periods since 1950." At the Grumpy Economist blog, a professor at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, John Cochrane, wrote, "4% might be too low a target!"

Professor Cochrane's point is the one where I have some historical context to bring to bear, relating to the 1960 presidential campaign. That story begins in 1958 with a report issued by the special studies project of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The project was chaired by Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican who was elected the same year as governor of New York. Its staff director was Henry Kissinger. Panelists included Arthur Burns, who would later become chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Eugene Rostow, who was then dean of Yale Law School. It set the bar higher than 4 percent. "A growth rate of 5 per cent is possible if we realize fully our impressive opportunities for economic expansion," the report said. "With the 4 per cent rate of growth, our capacity would be far below our desirable objectives — which is to say, below our aspirations."

As I recount in my book JFK, Conservative, it was this 5 percent growth goal that became part of the Democratic Party platform in 1960. That platform said, "We Democrats believe that our economy can and must grow at an average rate of 5% annually, almost twice as fast as our average annual rate since 1953. We pledge ourselves to policies that will achieve this goal without inflation."

It was an issue on the campaign trail. Walter Heller, an economist at the University of Minnesota who became an adviser to President Kennedy, recalled meeting the candidate in a hotel suite. Kennedy was running an hour late to speak to a crowd of 15,000 waiting for him outside. As the senator changed his shirt, he scratched his chest and asked the professor, "Tell me, do you really think we can make this 5 percent growth rate we talk about into a platform?"

On September 6, 1960, during a statewide television appearance in the state of Washington, Kennedy took a question from a Seattle voter: "How do you plan to obtain 5 percent economic growth?" JFK replied, in part, "We can aim for the goal of 5 percent."

Back then, it was Richard Nixon's camp mocking what Eisenhower's budget director, Maurice Stans, called "the cult of growth," and what Nixon, Kennedy's 1960 opponent, himself knocked as "growthmanship."

Jeb Bush's growth focus is welcome and is cast optimistically. But it says something sad, too, that over the course of the past 60 years 4 percent growth has gone from "far below" our aspirations, in the words of that 1958 Rockefeller Brothers report, to something that Paul Krugman and Timothy Noah now assure us is so unrealistically ambitious as to be borderline delusional. Sixty years from now, will 3 percent growth seem too ambitious? Or might a successful Jeb Bush presidency enable some future candidate again to set five percent growth, or something even higher, as an aim?

NEXT: The Feds Took 182,000 Tons of Raisins from U.S. Farmers. This Insane Flowchart Shows What Happened Next.

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    That is all..

    1. Jeb Bush signed the infamous PNAC document calling for “A new Pearl Harbor”…perhaps he has a new Pearl Harbor planned to help spur economic growth…lets give him some credit…he can help get a good plan together.

    2. I’ll give him some credit. Though he looks like a Rush Limbaugh-Chris Christie hybrid, he’s not as fat as them.

    3. Most people aren’t aware of the almost unbelievable deals that they can get from online auction sites. I know I found the best site, and I am regularly saving hundreds of dollars on things like iPads, gift cards, and smart phones. I got a $200 Best Buy Gift card there for $33. I did all my Christmas shopping there and I spent less and get more than ever before.

    1. Curse you…with your fast fingers and similar analysis of Yeb Arbusto.

      1. reva!

  2. Paul can beat that just be reforming taxes. We can’t have sustained growth with Governmentarama. It’s that simple.

    1. No, fuck you, cut spending.

        1. I’m stealing that (again) for my Quixotic 2016 Campaign. Helped garner me about 100 votes in 2012, from what I was able to gather…

          We’re shooting for 1000 this go around.

          DO IT HAVE YOUR VOTE!!??

          *smiles – sticks out hand to shake*

          Almanian for President – 2016
          I Probably Won’t Make It Worse

          1. If you promise a chicken in every pot and a woodchipper in every yard, you might just break 1,000.

            1. Down here that tack is jokingly referred to as “A possum in every pot…”

            2. He’ll promise you the right to buy such things.

          2. Given the way people like to be dominated in this country, you would be better served with the old standby

            Almanian for President – 2016
            Why Choose The *Lesser* Evil?

            1. Almanian for President – 2016
              Why Choose The *Lesser* Evil?
              Because those other guys are dickheads!

      1. No fuck you, cat spending.

  3. I struggle that name recognition is the most important quality among candidates in this cycle. WE’RE DOOMED.

    1. We’re closer to the end than I once thought. I mean, this is Venezuelan levels of stupid, that we don’t give a shit about anything substantive anymore.

      1. Yeah, but Romney had a dog on top of his car on vacation LOL!!

        1. Even that sort of nonsense beats “MUST VOTE AS TOLD FOR NAME I HEARD ONCE.”

          1. Hillary Clinton has a vagina! Allegedly! She’s my girl!!!!

            *pulls “D” lever*

            1. I thought we moved past Gender just like we moved past race.

              1. We HAVE. JUST like race.

                1. You have to credit Obama for setting back race relations a generation.

            2. Literally millions of women who qualify for that office and who are registered Democrats, yet only an unindicted crook is available. No, nothing wrong with our country or with the Democrats in particular. Nope.

              1. The position is pretty much mostly for unindicted crooks, ProL. Be fair.

                1. You’re right. I suppose it’s her incompetence at criminal enterprise, along with everything else she does, that’s the problem. At least let our elected criminals be good at what they do.

            3. “-She’s my girl!!!!”


    2. I struggle that most all the candidates are fuckheads, unworthy of anything but my derision, much less my vote.

      1. Me as well. I end up voting for the one I think has the least wish to destroy me. But I can never be sure when they’re all pandering fools too.

  4. Give Jeb Bush Some Credit

    Well…okay, but he’s going to need to put up some collateral.

    1. Eastern Motors will give Jeb what he’s looking for….

    2. +1 Rolex copy

  5. Give Jeb Bush Some Credit

    Hoy no se f?a, ma?ana s?.

    (We don’t give credit today, [but] tomorrow yes.) A very funny and ingenious notice posted in many little Mom & Pop corner stores in Mexico and most Latin American places.

    1. Hokay, mine – ju gonna order son thing or no? Jess? No? Cause I don’t know what ju sayin…jess wass on the menu, mang….

      /Cuban employee and Mexican customer at McDonalds

      1. Ha. Try ordering a Big Mac in Louisville, KY. If you can understand what passes for English among the teens over there, you get the Linguistics Prize of 2015.

        1. Don’t worry. In two years you will be able to select “English” on the touch screen of your McOrderBot 3000, so it won’t be an issue much longer.

  6. I’m sorry, he hasn’t said or done anything to cause me to give him any credit at all. No specifics on how he is going to achieve this. Then there is whether I would trust him enough to follow through with with any proposals to cut taxes and spending if he promises them. I would say, probably no. I can’t do it man. You’re asking too much.

  7. So is Ira Stoll here to balance out Steve Chapman?

  8. So does the Attorney generals office know about this obvious threat to a U.S. Senator by a major news reporting service? Oh wait, he’s a republican and it’s Obamas Pravda. Nevermind.…..ruzs-head/

    1. I do want want of those Sig Equinoxes btw. Pretty sharp.

      1. “I do want want of those Sig Equinoxes btw. Pretty sharp.”


        MSRP: $1,253.00


        1. Yeah, I know. Pretty steep.

    2. Is that a wood chipper next to his head?!!! Whoever did that deserves that needs prison time pronto.

  9. His brother originally campaigned on no nation building and no US world police.

    1. His brother lost his shit when 9/11 happened.

      1. right…bush had no idea that ALL HIS advisers and his brother wanted a new pearl harbor excuse for invading the middle east and increasing the war budget?

  10. Krughead is, of course, a Democratic hack, but he is also ironically telling us exactly how this kind of growth could become manifest. Paul Krugman claims that Bush’s plan is “worse than a false promise of a weight-loss cure featuring neither diet nor exercise.” Diet and exercise are exactly what is needed. Diet for government and economic exercise allowed by reducing government regulation are together the only solution to both ending economic malaise and helping out those at the bottom end of the inequality? divide.

    Thanks Krughead.

    1. I think Krugman would make an excellent economic advisor. You just do the opposite of everything he says and you should be in pretty good shape.

      1. He’s like the Cytotoxic of economics.

        1. I resentle that remark!

          1. Do you have a Nobel Prize, Cytotoxic? I think not…


      2. The trans-fat of progressivism.

      3. Yes, nobody seemed to notice he was screeching we had to nationalize the banks during the recession. It was the only solution according to him. Just seeing his name make me a bit nauseous.

  11. I really don’t see why he should be given any credit. Talk is cheap, especially talk from political candidates. People giving fucks about what politicians say and no fucks about whether they actually do what they say is sort of a massive problem in representative democracies.

    1. When elected, I will give every American a Green Lantern power ring.

      1. You’ve got my vote! Oh shit, it works!

        1. Of course, only later do I reveal that I’m reserving the recharging lanterns for my cronies.

      2. I would vote for you if you just gave Agile Cyborg one.

        1. Ah, ha, I’m giving him four–one for each appendage.

          1. Ahh, only four?

            1. lol:)

            2. Each appendage but one. That much power, no man should have.

  12. OT: Hey, he identifies as a Dalek, so who are you to judge?

    Angry dwarf is jailed after sticking a sucker dart on his head and pretending to be a Dalek in row which led to him being Tasered twice by police. Ian Salter-Bromley filled mouth with dominoes and shouted ‘Exterminate!’

    1. Oddly enough, it’s usually the police that act like a bunch of Daleks.

      You have failed to respect my authoritah…you must be terminated…exterminate…exterminate….

  13. OT:

    When did Episiarch move to London?

    “The man was obviously high already. He got out this big bag of coke, it was huge, and just started snorting it.

    1. I was just visiting! That’s the last time I do coke and mescaline at the same time, though.

      1. “He even offered me some.”

        Aren’t you a sweety, not bogarting the coke. Very generous of you.

  14. 4%? not without repealing obamacare.

  15. Are Bush’s proposed tax increases going to bring this 4% growth?

    1. multipliers

  16. “Ira Stoll Says Give Jeb Bush Some Credit”


    I don’t care if he came down off of the right hand of god and has a permanent glowing halo. More dangerous than stupid voters is an political class with entrenched family dynasties. Functionally it is an aristocracy and it is past time it went the way of dinosaurs. And something something woodchippers. This is, of course, the inevitable outcome of the progressive agenda even though they had no clue it would be and didn’t intend it that way. Concentrated and centralized power will always be captured by exclusive groups that will cling to it and expand it at every chance.

    Go home Jeb.

    1. To be sure, I’m not voting for him.

    2. Glorified gangs

  17. Give Jeb Bush Some Credit

    No, sorry. I pass.

    1. Doesn’t appear Republicans have learned a thing from McCain and Romney.

  18. Jeb demonstrates in one fell swoop that he suffers from the epidemic statist condition of thinking that the “right men” can manage the economy.

    Especially since swamping us with low-skilled Latin American immigrants is an integral part of his plan.

    1. Common Core will give them skills.

  19. “WSJ/NBC poll: 75% of Republicans now say they could support Jeb Bush, tops among all candidates”…..andidates/

    1. they ain’t the party of stoopid for nothing.

    2. Are these numbers believable?

      1. Hard to say. WSJ probably want everyone to think he’s popular. NBC wants everyone to think republicans are idiots. Serves both their purposes.

        1. That’s what I think too, JB. The leftist media doesn’t attack bad GOP candidates because they’re afraid of them. They attack them because they know it will push them to the front of the pack.

          1. I agree with this….and why does Reason focus on the same puppets as the “left” media?

        2. Yeah but is there an actual problem with the methodology?

          1. Are you suggesting their millennial interns might not be good at math?

            1. 1 in 1,573,196 = 75%

  20. I’ve gone back to my regular handle, before someone stole it.

    That is all. Carry on.

    1. Good advice. Thanks.

      Hey, you aren’t going to send me a bill are you?

      1. If he does, just put it in the woodchipper.

  21. Why leave out GDP for 2001-10?


    Because real GDP growth was the worst since the 1930’s?

    1. On a more serious note.. Do you think South Carolina has better peaches than Georgia? This is important, so.. put some thought into your answer.

      1. put some thought into your answer.

        Ha ha.

        I on the other hand have put thought into a proposal you made a month ago regarding ISIS and letting Iran eat the cake it baked. Your idea has merit and you made the argument in a peacenazism-free way. Unfortunately it won’t work. For one, war with ISIS won’t drive the Iranian people from the regime away any more than war with Sadaam’s Iraq did in the ’80s.

        1. “For one, war with ISIS won’t drive the Iranian people from the regime away any more than war with Sadaam’s Iraq did in the ’80s.”

          The Iranian people know that they’re not going to be fighting a rational state actor. They’ll be well aware that they’re being conscripted to shore up the numbers if a feckless and incompetent Iraqi regime, which lacks the will to fight, let alone put the interests of their nation above graft and nepotism. This was made worse by the constant meddling of the IRGC in Iraqi political affairs. ISIS is blowback, and the average Iranian student is far from stupid… they know this. Who would want to fight and die in that meatgrinder, for the likes of Al Maliki? Think *Vietnam*… There’s nothing new under the sun..

          1. Not bad points but really makes for a much better description of Syria. ISIS hates the Iranians for their religion. I think that might convince them to go along with the war. For Iran this is not Vietnam; ISIS will strike them too (as well as us) if they take over Iraq. Who knows, maybe you are right. We will see.

            1. That, we shall..

            2. replace ISIS with “CIA/Mossad”….everything still makes sense. False flag attacks bitches

    2. And then it never recovered.

    3. Because real GDP growth was the worst since the 1930’s?

      Funny how that happens when the government tries to stimulate the economy. It’s almost as if the best thing the government can do with regards to the economy is police force and fraud, and otherwise back the fuck off.

      1. Funny how that happens when the government tries to stimulate the economy.

        I agree with that statement.

        Obviously the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 did not bring in 4% GDP in the aughts even with a substantial housing bubble. They completely failed in fact. All they did was create large deficits (along with his big spending).

        The only sound reason to cut taxes is so that the person who earns the money can keep it.

        Bottom line – Jeb Bush can’t do shit for the economy.

        1. What the hell does this have to do with your support for Hillary?

          1. I don’t support Hillary, you liar.

            1. Why not?

              1. She cravenly voted for the AUMF to further her political career. She is a complete political whore.

                1. Palin’s Buttplug|6.22.15 @ 8:22PM|#
                  “[…]She is a complete political whore.”

                  Just your kinda gal, turd.

        2. The Bush tax cuts did not create any deficits.

          1. Wrong.


            Of course cutting spending is the better option.

            1. Oh wow, ‘Zfacts’ and a graph! With colors! I’m convinced.

              In the real world, tax revenue has been 18-19% of GDP since forever, tax cuts be damned. So Bush’s tax cuts likely increased revenue rather than decreased it because they made the economy larger while not reducing the government’s ‘share’ of it. The USG has no revenue shortage. It’s only gone up and up.

        3. Tax cuts to grow the economy, in an environment of regulation, stimulus, and other government bullshit, is like trying to change the course of an oil tanker with a paddle.

          Besides, GDP is a pointless statistic. It counts government spending as a positive, while ignoring the opportunity cost of forcibly taking money out of the economy that could have been put to productive use.

          Show me a long period of poor economic growth, and I’ll show you a government trying to fix it. Show me a quick snap back from a recession, and I’ll show you a lack of government action.

          Bottom line: the only tool the government has is force, and force is a shitty tool for “fixing” an economy that is nothing more than millions of people engaging in voluntary transactions.

        4. Thankfully Barry’s stimulus and TARP and Barrycare fixed all that. Oh wait.

  22. We need factories pumping out subsidized crap that is purchased by subsidized consumers to get real growth.

    1. Thank God we own the printing presses.

      1. Got a spare one that can print Drachmas?

        1. 3D printer is on my wish list

            1. hells yes!

            2. You want to do yard work don’t you?…putting lots of bushes and perhaps even a shrub into a woodchipper? I can tell that is what you are thinking about.

              I don’t approve of your dreams. However, if it did happen I would understand why it happened.

            3. You want to do yard work don’t you?…putting lots of bushes and perhaps even a shrub into a woodchipper? I can tell that is what you are thinking about.

              I don’t approve of your dreams. However, if it did happen I would understand why it happened.

  23. The 4 percent number was greeted with immediate derision from the left, which ridiculed it as excessively ambitious.

    Psst, this is not a good way to win people to the left.

    If 4% is overly ambitious, the US is quite fucked. This is the kind of growth you’re supposed to have if you really are out of a recession.

    1. Hilarious and pathetic at the same time, saying all you need to know about lefty economics.

      Given unlimited power and only a couple of years I, an amateur, could double that number by doing all the things that make lefties gnash their teeth.

  24. Sadly, 4% growth probably is realistic compared to those earlier periods since there are a lot more regulations now. We need tax cuts, spending cuts, AND reduced regulation. Getting all of that won’t be easy.

    1. What about all those people whose job it is to write regulation? Do you want to invalidate all their hard work? And what about their families? They need that job to put their kids through college! If they don’t write regulation, then they can’t justify their employment! Why do you hate the children?

    2. We need tax cuts, spending cuts, AND reduced regulation.

      What is the political triple crown? I’ll take things that will never happen for $800, Alex.

  25. Before Reason columnist loved Bush 3, reason columnist loved Obama.

    1. We do NOT need a Sheldon Richman of the Right!

    2. So Bush and Obama are peachy keen but we’re all assholes?

      1. hasn’t that already been established?

  26. OT: Now there are two words you can’t yell in a crowded theater.…..use-n-word

    1. Ni!


    3. Poor Nina Gordon…I don’t know if she’ll make it in prison, she looks so delicate…

      (video contains n-word)

      1. Can I get a ruling from Piers – do white hispanics get an exemption?

        (warning: n-word)

  27. I give him credit for being a worthless bag of dung, on par with Hillary. Ok, he’s not that bad, but he’s still a worthless bag of dung.

    There’s the credit.

  28. Now I’m waiting for The libertarian case for Jeb. Come on, to talk seriously about the supposed virtues of any of these candidates and to suggest that it somehow matters which of these scumbags the oligarchs pick as the figurehead for this joke of a country is just idiocy. As big a mental case as Stefan Molyneux is at least he is correct in his assessment of what this country and most of the world is – a big tax farm and we are all the livestock. Who would be a better sheep herder, Jeb or Hillary or the Donald – jeeze, golly, I just don’t know. That Reason participates in this charade is baffling to me. or maybe not.

    1. They have been controlled opposition for a long time. Remember the libertarian case for Obama?

      Remember Matt Welch calling for a global war on terror after 9/11?

    2. Isn’t Jeb Bush a racist? I heard that when his dad was the head of the CIA they were worried about asians reproducing too much and so they arm-twisted the chinese until they conceded to drown asian babies in a bucket if they dared have 2 in one family….and that resulted in millions of babies being killed…kinda racist….why no concern about that or the race-targeting bioweapons they Jeb and his friends talked about in the PNAC documents where they gleefully talked about the fun things they could do when a new pearl harbor opportunity came?

      1. What is Jeb’s opinion on aid to Saudi Arabia?

        1. it seems Jeb supports the people that like to stone women to death. Does he not even care to address this sexism?

  29. Ignited?

    Many folks fell asleep before he got to the end of the sentence on economic growth.

    But it’s nice that Reason is treating Jeb with kid gloves… we shouldn’t go too hard on him during this critical period in the campaign.

  30. A key aspect of the rate of economic growth is growth in the labor force.

    In 2015, computers are adding to the worldwide human population at the rate of about 1 million human brain equivalents (HBEs) per year. But in 10 years, the number of HBEs added by computers will be roughly 1 billion per year. And in 20 years, the number of HBEs added by computers will be more than 1 TRILLION per year.…..ic_gr.html

    The bottom line is that virtually all free countries in the world should be achieving economic growth rates greater than 10% per year within 20 years.

    1. That is until we hit the Singularity. Then our Top Men will be Top Computers.

  31. You know, I don’t care whether Jeb Bush is the messiah, the antichrist, or a gay cokewhore. He might have some brilliant ideas, and may truly even want return the power of the state back to the individual. But, for those of us who still stubbornly vote for the stupid party, can’t we find someone not fucking named Bush?

  32. This will be the down fall to the greatest country on the planet. too many leaches think they are entitled to other peoples earnings. ?????

  33. I’m genuinely curious, how do we sustain economic growth within a closed system such as the Earth?

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