Hillary’s spin on the Reagan vs. Clinton economies off-mark
July 23rd, 2014
06:16 PM ET
2 months ago

Hillary’s spin on the Reagan vs. Clinton economies off-mark

(CNN) – Hillary Clinton, throughout much of her book tour, has made bold claims comparing the Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton economies.

Last week, Clinton stepped up those claims in an interview with Charlie Rose when she asserted “if I just were to compare Reagan's eight years with Bill's eight years, it's like night and day in terms of the effects, the number of jobs that were created, the number of people lifted out of poverty 100 times more when Bill was president. And did policies have something to do with that? I would argue that they did.”

This is far from the first time Hillary or Bill Clinton have boasted about the economic gains made during their years in the White House. The former first lady started to talk up her husband's economic record in May, when she told a liberal audience in Washington that "The 1990s taught us that even in the face of difficult long term economic trends, it is possible through smart policies and sound investments to enjoy broad-based growth and shared prosperity."

Hillary’s decision to implicitly criticize Ronald Reagan’s economy represents a more confrontational tone from the former first lady, however, and reflects the actions of someone who may be gearing up for a potential presidential run.

Clinton vs. Reagan on Jobs

Her first claim – that the effects of the Clinton and Reagan economies were like “night and day” – implies that under her husband job growth dramatically outperformed Reagan’s.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency charged with collecting employment data, the number of people employed jumped by 18.7 million between January 1993 and January 2001, Clinton's eight years in the White House.

During Reagan’s eight years, though, 16.75 million people were employed, meaning just under 2 million more jobs were created during the Clinton's years compared to Reagan.

When adjusting for population size and growth, though, the Reagan tenure actually grew employment at a faster rate than did the Clinton term.

By another measure, “nonfarm payroll,” which excludes the self-employed but counts each part-time job, Clinton’s economy created 22.8 million salaried and wage earning jobs while Reagan’s created 16.1 million. In the private sector, Reagan saw a net gain of 14.7 million jobs while under Clinton private sector jobs grew by 21 million.

Reagan’s job growth also suffered from a severe recession during his first term accentuated by anti-inflationary measures he took, net job gains did not accumulate until mid-1983. Benefiting from consistently low inflation and employing looser monetary policy, Clinton, on the other hand, saw consistent gains until the end of his term in office when job growth leveled off.

Both Clinton and Reagan signed historic tax cuts and deregulation, which some economists credit for the robust job and economic growth during their terms in office.

On jobs then, the Reagan and Clinton economies both experienced dramatic job growth making Hillary’s claim of a “night and day” difference between the two is exaggerated at best.


Filed under: Economy • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Bigd

    Ronnie tripled the debt, he bought his way out of a recession

    July 23, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  2. A Kickin' Donkey

    One Democrat, One Republican.

    One created three years of budget SURPLUSES. One created thenRECORD DEFICITS (as a percentage of the national GDP)

    Guess which one did which? Hint: the so called fiscally responsible Republicans ARE NOT what they claim to be

    jEven now. President Obama is dropping the deficit at the fastest rate since Clinton. George W. Bush NEVER did this. He was too busy with UNFUNDED tax cuts for "job creators".

    July 23, 2014 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  3. rick

    With a difference in age vs how many in the 2 different time periods. The numbers are very different. If you factor in the numbers from 1950.. 1900. 1850.. Its like apples to oranges. Both are fruit. But totaly different product. There are good and bad periods of employment. After the crash of stock market worldwide in 1929. Bad period.. 1946. Great period.. Ups and downs are normal in every government. Like claiming because of one particular person is resposable for rain at one area and not another.. Again Hillary flapping gums..

    July 23, 2014 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    Reaganamics is the one what caused this nation a biggest fiscal fiasco. Still we are not recuperating with this effect. True. Yes, Clinton era was a golden era. Dot com boom, more jobs, more surplus. True. Yes, it not congress. Today we are experiencing the most Horrible, vulgar congress. Yes, current president is doing excellent job. God bless!!!!

    July 23, 2014 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. Wes

    hillary is a disaster.

    July 23, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. Greg

    What a hot bag of air! Comparing the two tenures is impossible to quantify because Reagan went into office with 18 percent inflation– Clinton got in on the tail end of the economic upswing, which arguably lasted for 20 odd years. If I'm not mistaken, Clinton's aggregate rate rates were the highest since WW2, so much of his time the economy benefitted by low inflation, which made capital investment greater on anyone's watch.
    I recall a quote attributed to Clinton after he went in and had a meeting with his economic advisers. He said, "You mean our interest rates are decided by a bunch of f-ing bond traders? He didn't have a clue, and neither does Hillary. I wonder what the outcome would have been had Clinton gone in in 1980 instead on the coattails of Reagan's economic revival? I bet it would have looked much more like Jimmy Carter than Reagan.
    I wish the Clinton (Chealsy included) would go back to Arkansas where they belong.

    July 23, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  7. Liz the First

    Maybe the numbers aren't too different, but they didn't coin the phrase, 'the Clinton poor.' they did talk about the 'Reagan poor!' we went thru 8 years of peace and prosperity that could have been even better if the republicans hadn't mercilessly persecuted Clinton for imaginary, and one real, scandals. then we traded a large surplus for a crushing debt under Bush the Usurper and the economy went to hell, for everyone but the mega-rich. We are only on the mend now because we have a Democratic president again. we traded good government for a bunch of spendthrift tax cutters who made their rich buddies richer and almost bankrupted the country. anyone who thinks things will be different under another republican needs to have his head examined! we need to learn from our collective mistake and never, never again put another republican in the White House. all we do is clean up after them!

    July 23, 2014 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  8. king

    Leason folks, the reagan economy wasnt globalised so the trickle down policies, came down to the people and it worked for a while. this article said clinton cut taxes. But they didn't mention that Clinton era taxes were high compared to present. Furthermore the country was just going into the global marker. And by that points trickle down was just started curving side ways to China. Now the repubs trickle down is fully bent 90 degree straight .to China and India.

    July 23, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  9. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Where is she so far off the mark?? Reagan "suffered from..."!?!? Reagan helped PRODUCE that recession!!

    July 23, 2014 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  10. Bill from GA

    Ah, Come On! She didn't mean to be taken LITERALLY!!

    Give the old girl a break.

    July 24, 2014 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  11. Thomas

    The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, passed during the Great Depression,

    Bill Clinton let the door to the hen house open GW Bush .

    July 24, 2014 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  12. Marie MD

    If you are a senior your demi Hollywood god put the screws to you when he taxed your social security tiny little check and under his administration being able to claim your credit card interest went the way of the doo doo, amont so many other things he did wrong.
    faux news and the teaklans might try to rewrite history but this guy who has every other building in DC and around the country (it seems) named after him was a failure to the middle class and the poor.
    He slept through most of his presidency. After the US show down an Iranian plane it took him four days to leave his CA ranch to return to DC where he finally gave a speech. Can you imagine if Obama had done that!?

    July 24, 2014 06:19 am at 6:19 am |