Kenneth Rogoff tests the Nixon analogy
Last month I wrote: More and more, Bush reminds me of Nixon. He’s not afraid to make the bold move in foreign policy. On domestic policy, Bush seems like he’ll say or do anything, so long as it advances his short-term political advantage. If Karl Rove thought imposing wage and price controls would win Pennsylvania ...
More and more, Bush reminds me of Nixon. He’s not afraid to make the bold move in foreign policy. On domestic policy, Bush seems like he’ll say or do anything, so long as it advances his short-term political advantage. If Karl Rove thought imposing wage and price controls would win Pennsylvania and Michigan for Bush, you’d see an Executive Order within 24 hours.
Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard — and chief economist at the IMF from 2001 to 2003 — has an amusing article in Foreign Policy on whether, when it comes to spending, Bush really is as bad as Nixon when it comes to domestic spending. His conclusion — “Overall winner: Nixon—although Bush has eight months left.” He also makes the point that compared to the rest of the world, U.S. presidents seeking re-election are misers:
U.S. presidents are hardly the only or the best practitioners of electoral economics. Mexico, for example, boasts a history of political business cycles that make the United States look fiscally Puritan. Mexican Presidents José López Portillo in 1982 and Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1994 set benchmarks that few have surpassed. Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin gave away the country’s natural resource base (under the guise of “privatization”) to ensure his reelection in 1996, a problem the country is still painfully sorting through today. In Italy, every prime minister seems to produce a fiscal splurge come election time—and Italy has a lot of elections. But then, a country does not achieve one of the world’s highest debt-to-GDP ratios (more than 100 percent) without effort.
Go read the whole thing — it’s a nice primer on the political business cycle.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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