Jeb Bush is running for president.
And in his announcement speech on Monday, Bush said his goal was an economy that grows at 4% per year and said creates 19 million jobs during his time as president (sounds like he penciled in 2 terms on the jobs front).
This is a fun claim.
The problem is that as president you can’t just decide by how much you’re going to grow the economy or how many jobs you’re going to create.
Additionally, Bush sounds like he’s arguing we’re not seeing an economy that is close to his vision.
Which isn’t exactly the case
At a continuously compounding annual rate, GDP growth has been right around 3.5% since we’ve come out of the recession. And given the severity of the recession and financial crisis, this doesn’t seem so terrible.
On the jobs front, we’ve seen a ton of jobs created during this recovery.
Since the recession officially ended in June 2009, more than 11 million jobs have been created while government employment has been flat to down (that huge spike is from the Census hiring spree in 2010 — this will happen again in 2020).
And so while Bush is mostly, you know, talking his book during a speech to launch his presidential run, his economic promises are not the things that any president can promise or ensure. The US isn’t just entitled to a certain level economic growth because a politician says it is.
The economy is going to be sensitive to things like demographics — sort of a mixed bag for the next president: tons of millennials will become prime-age workers but there are also tons of Baby Boomers retiring — as well as the global business cycle and financial markets, which are out of the hands, to a large extent, of the US president.
For example, at this stage in the 2008 election cycle — so June 2007 — there were signs that the housing market was running into trouble, but the stock market was still a few months away from peaking and all hell didn’t begin to break loose in markets until the following summer. And even people who knew there was a problem in the housing market didn’t know how unpleasantly it would play out, how deep the recession would be, and how long it would take for the US to come back.
And so in short, there is a long way to go for the economy and the candidates before we know who succeeds President Obama.
But what we can be pretty sure of is that no candidate that promises any specific growth level or number of jobs created will be able to back that up in office.