The Republican presidential primary campaign is, to a large extent, a convention of white male fantasy enthusiasts. You say you can double economic growth, with magic? Well I can... triple it!
The conventional wisdom among mainstream economic forecasters is that economies like ours are entering a period in which low annual growth is the new norm. Many say that growth in the ballpark of 2% a year is what we should be expecting as we set our economic policies in the future.
Jeb Bush, who at least looks like a man who might have read some books with numbers in them before, got himself some attention for promising that, if elected president, he would raise the economic growth rate to 4%. (It is telling that part of his prescription for this doubling of expectations included Americans just, uh, working more hours every day.) Bush’s promise was based on the purely magical idea that lowering taxes can send growth shooting through the clouds—a theory that, Noah Smith points out, was chiefly promoted by the same guy who predicted the Dow Jones industrial average would skyrocket to 36,000 right before the tech bubble collapsed.
Oh well, embarrassing economic lie by Jeb Bush. How can his opponents top this already overly optimistic promise based on fantasy? Mike Huckabee, who looks somewhat less like a man who has read many math books, has found a way: he has promised that he will make the US economy grow at 6% a year! He says this will be achieved by instituting a flat tax and, haha, abolishing the IRS, the institution that collects the government’s money. A 6% growth rate has not been seen since 1966.
We’re definitely gonna have to at least start another Cold War, and preferably another land war in Asia. But “Anything to fulfill a campaign promise by a radio preacher,” as the founding fathers famously said.
Do I hear 8%? Anyone? Bobby Jindal?