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Talking About Growth

February 1, 2013 by Matthew Denhart
We have been scoring this year’s presidential debates, but not based on the traditional metrics used to judge debates. Rather, we have been tracking how often the candidates talk about economic growth. Prior to last night’s second debate between President Obama and Governor Romney, economic growth had been mentioned 41 times: 26 times by the Romney-Ryan ticket and 15 times by the Obama-Biden ticket. Growth was again a major theme in last night’s debate. But departing from past debates, this time Obama talked about growth more than Romney did. Obama used the term “grow” when discussing the economy 13 times, compared to Romney’s eight uses of the term. In this debate, an even bigger theme was that of “jobs.” During the 90-minute debate, the two candidates mentioned jobs 89 times: Romney used the term 52 times, and Obama 37 times. While “jobs” and “growth” may seem like the same thing, there are important differences between the two concepts, which Amity Shlaes and I describe in a recent column for Bloomberg. Of course, the most important thing for voters to consider is not just who is talking about growth the most, but rather which candidate’s proposed policies would actually help the country achieve strong growth. Robert Asahina makes this point well in his most recent blog, and he highlights some of the differing beliefs the candidates have about what will propel the economy forward. We are glad to see that both candidates are embracing the theme of economic growth and debating how exactly the economy grows in the first place. To update our scoreboard, total growth mentions in the 2012 presidential debates have now reached 62, with Romney leading Obama 34 to 28. The final debate takes place next Monday, and we’ll again be tracking the discussion of economic growth.

Author

Matthew Denhart
Matthew Denhart

Matthew Denhart is an expert on immigration policy and is the author of the Bush Institute’s America's Advantage: A Handbook of Vital Immigration and Economic Growth Statistics, now in its third edition. He currently serves as executive director of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation and is a founder of the Coolidge Scholars Program which provides full-ride merit scholarships to America's most promising college students. A summa cum laude graduate of Ohio University, Denhart has written and spoken widely on a variety of policy topics including the economics of higher education, labor, and taxes. He has contributed articles to numerous national publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes.com, CNN Opinion, and Bloomberg View. 

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