Economically, our country had recovered from the stock market disaster of the 1980s and was booming. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan warned that our “irrational exuberance” would turn the dot-com boom into a burst bubble. At the front of it all was the first Democratic president in 12 years. Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas had captured America’s imagination with his catch phrase “It’s the economy, stupid!” America stood at a crossroads. With Fleetwood Mac’s song Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow blaring in the background, America was posed for one heckuva finale to the 20th century. Discuss the economic growth of United States during the 1980s and 1990s.
There are a number of ways to think about the economic growth of the 1980s and 1990s. Let us look at two important issues that are involved in this topic.
First, there is controversy over what caused this economic growth. Conservatives tend to argue that it was the Reagan tax cuts that caused the growth of the 1980s. Liberals do not think that Reagan deserves this credit. Similarly, there is conflict over what caused the economic progress under President Clinton. Liberals tend to give Clinton’s policies credit for this growth. Conservatives, by contrast, tend to think that the growth was simply caused by the “bubble” that came along with the early internet boom.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, there is the issue of the impact of this economic growth. Liberals tend to argue that this growth, and the Reagan Era policies that came along with it, have harmed our society. They typically argue that the growth led to a great deal more economic inequality. They say the growth benefitted the rich more than anyone else and that it covered up the fact that, for example, huge numbers of middle class jobs were being lost to globalization.
Thus, the economic growth of this era is controversial both as to its causes and as to its effects.