Why the huge difference between the cycles? Good policies versus bad policies. Encouraging business and entrepreneurship rather than discouraging it.
Unfortunately, Bush presided over the collapse of the dollar, a skyrocketing gold price and a lack of monetary rules that channeled into a housing and commodity bubble that decimated the economy and financial sector.
As for Obama, I've mentioned some of his mistakes. But let me emphasize the economically destructive impact of Obamacare. With its costly mandates that jack up premiums and reduce profits, it has thrown a wet blanket over hiring the 51st worker or allowing for the 30th hour worked. Under Obama, the size and scope of government has greatly enlarged. That's anti-growth.
In the Reagan-Clinton prosperity cycle, the size and scope of government was substantially reduced. A pro-growth measure. There was major tax reform and reduction, free-trade expansion, deregulation, large-scale federal-spending restraint, welfare reform, Social Security reform and monetary rules that vanquished inflation and delivered a strong King Dollar and a collapsing gold price. All pro-growth. All encouragements to business confidence and psychology.
We can get back to the near 4 percent growth of the Reagan-Clinton cycle. That's what elections are for—to change policy. And part of the policy change must be a new pro-growth, pro-business optimism that sends the right signals to large and small firms, entrepreneurs, blue-collar workers, families and the rest of the world.
Remember this: When America gets it right at home, its international influence and prestige will return. Meanwhile, most of the rest of the world will get their stories right by following America's lead. Prosperity at home is essential to peace and freedom abroad.
Of course we can do better. That's what the '80s and '90s proved. That's why the midterm elections are so important.