Power & politics: presidential history

tsj column writers - power and politicsBy Zachary Toillion

In 2016, it is at least a possibility that the two leading candidates have been active in politics since the 1970s, longer than some voters have even been alive.

Remember the last few Republican presidents we had? Let me remind you. Let’s start with George W. Bush.

The worst terrorist attack ever occurred on U.S. soil, two wars in the Middle East, a major American city, New Orleans, left to be destroyed for days before anything was done. Reporting shortly after leaving office showed illegal assassination rings orchestrated from the Vice President’s office, illegal prosecutions of whistleblowers that eventually had to be dismissed, systemic torture, war crimes, taking a $200 billion surplus to a $1.4 trillion deficit and dozens of indictments.

But selling arms to terrorists in Iran, Watergate, illegal wiretaps of political dissidents, a market crash in 2008, a saving & loan crisis in the late 80s, multiple government shutdowns and a total of three recessions. Since 1968, we’ve had five Republican presidents. All but two ended their tenure with their approval ratings in the 20s (Reagan and Ford).

Things have changed, for the better. We went from a $1.4 trillion deficit to a $455 billion deficit, a decrease of 68 percent and enacted the largest budget cuts in our nation’s history. In October 2009, the unemployment rate reached 10 percent. By election day 2016, it is expected to hit 4.6 percent, the biggest decrease of any president in 80 years.

We’ve seen dictatorships overthrown in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Wars ended in Afghanistan and Iraq. New diplomatic breakthroughs with Cuba and Iran. The rate of growth in the federal budget is only 1.4 percent, the lowest in 60 years. We’ve created 12.6 million new private sector jobs and counting. There have been 79 months of private sector job growth; the lowest tax burden in 40 years. We’ve also enacted the largest tax cuts in history. Medicare solvency has been expanded by 20 years. We have the highest domestic oil production in history and gas prices are at their lowest in six years. The stock market valuation has more than doubled.

We’ve also appointed 250 LGBT appointments, attained marriage equality, lifted the transgender military ban, repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and put two women on the Supreme Court.

A depression was averted in the early months of Obama’s presidency. Five million families saved from deportation, 800,000 students. 17 million more people have health insurance,and the uninsured rate is the lowest in 40 years. Under Obama we have the first president to leave office with federal workforce smaller than when they took office.

 Osama Bin Laden, Moamarr Gaddhaffi, and seven members of Al Qeada’s senior leadership have been killed. Approval of American leadership is up almost universally since Bush. We’ve taken the largest steps toward nuclear arms reduction ever. We’ve enacted the largest reforms to Wall Street in 70 years and the largest pollution reductions ever. High school graduation rates are reaching an all time high. We’ve had less war casualties than the Bush years and less terrorist-related deaths than both Clinton and Bush.

But lets go back to Clinton. The unemployment rate under Bill Clinton hit four percent, the lowest in 40 years. During his [residency, 22.5 million new jobs were created, crime rates hist the lowest point in nearly 30 years, 96 percent of schools got internet access and poverty hit the lowest rate in 20 years.

Tell me, which party has made better use of its time in the White House?

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