During the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney repeatedly criticized President Obama for failing to reduce the unemployment rate below eight percent. Then, in the month before the election, the unemployment rate did drop below eight percent.
Lesson: don’t hang your hat on unpredictable economic numbers.
Jeb Bush is not following this lesson.
His latest ad is called “Four Percent,” as he goes all in on the promise of delivering annual GDP growth at that rate, “not that two percent stuff,” dismissed by the ad’s narrator.
In an attempt at being wry, the ad ends with this testament to Jeb’s economic powers: “He changes things. And he makes them better. He turned four percent, and made it, four percent.”
If Jeb becomes president, he may well be able to fulfill that pledge. Because GDP growth for the last quarter was at an annualized rate of four percent. (3.9% to be precise.)
Furthermore, two of the four quarters previous to the last quarter yielded GDP growth over four percent.
Jeb can plausibly complain about “2 percent growth” because that’s what the annual rates for much of the Obama presidency have been. But came in at the beginning of the market crash, and 2009 annual’s rate was -2.8 percent, after fourth quarter 2008 GDP was -6.3 percent and the subsequent quarter was -5.5 percent.
But Jeb is planting his flag on constantly moving ground. GDP has steadily grown throughout the Obama presidency after the stimulus stopped the bleeding and began the recovery. If the recent strong quarters hold up, Bush’s pledge will be exposed as empty.