Lane, all this is true, but it’s kind of meaningless because it’s inextricable from a single business cycle. (Yeah, things were booming while Clinton was in office.)
It’s the same kind of short-term, cherry-picked data that trickle-downers try to use to “demonstrate” the success of their policies. (i.e., Reagan’s question itself–yeah, the economy was in trouble while Carter was in office. No duh.)
Short-term analyses don’t overcome the obvious and accurate post hoc counterargument.
The long-term (and especially cross-country) analyses that you do so well are far more convincing. Those long-term, multi-country analyses show quite clearly the failure of trickle-down, and the economic success, prosperity, and stability that results from progressive policies.
In response to Steve Roth’s comment about business cycles and how they affect the data, two points. First, unfortunately most voters probably don’t take business cycles into account as they make decisions. The unadjusted-for-the-business-cycle data have real social meaning, even if economists would not be happy with using this approach to gauge changes in the underlying state of the economy.
Second, for exactly the reasons Roth mentions, our report (CEPR) includes two versions of the indicators. The first version compares “electoral cycles” (1992-2000 versus 2000-2008). The second compares business cycles –peak-to-peak (2000 versus 2007) or full-cycle (1989-2000 versus 2000-2007), as appropriate for each particular indicator. Putting things on a business-cycle basis narrows the gap in performance, but the earlier cycle still clobbers the more recent one.