On Monday, Barack Obama told the Chamber of Commerce that he would refuse to return to the economy of a few years ago that didn’t distribute gains fairly, at least according to Obama:
Of course, your responsibility goes beyond recognizing the need for certain standards and safeguards. If we’re fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports to help you compete, the benefits can’t just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They should be shared by American workers, who need to know that expanding trade and opening markets will lift their standard of living as well as your bottom line. We cannot go back to the kind of economy – and culture – we saw in the years leading up to the recession, where growth and gains in productivity just didn’t translate into rising incomes and opportunity for the middle class.
Today’s Washington Post tells a different story about the economic expansion that preceded the housing-bubble collapse:
The number of black-owned businesses grew much faster than the national rate during the five years before the recession began, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The ranks of black firms shot up more than 60 percent from 2002 to 2007, compared with the overall national increase of 4 percent. By the end of the boom, Prince George’s County had the highest share of black-owned businesses – 55 percent – among all large counties in the nation.
Less clear is how those firms fared after the recession hit. The Census Bureau did not offer any information on how minority-owned businesses did after late 2007, when the economic downturn began.
The Left likes to denigrate the economic expansions of the past thirty years as inherently unfair, for a couple of reasons. First, their aim is the distribution of wealth based on political values rather than productivity, which means they won’t particularly care for any true economic expansion. But second, dismissing the success of market-based economic policies allows them to argue that such policies are either irrelevant or damaging, when (especially in this case) it was government interventions in the housing markets that set off the chain reaction that nearly collapsed the global economy.
While the Bush economy expanded, though, it did lift all boats, as this Census data shows. Bush’s tax policies — extended by Obama — allowed for greater investment in small businesses, and black entrepreneurs benefited substantially more than the general population. That mirrors what happened across the economy as a whole, putting more people in control of their own economic future.
Obama may not want to return to that kind of economy, but a lot of Americans wouldn’t mind seeing it return — minus the government distortions that create and then pop bubbles.