Forget Jeb Bush's bold promise of 4 percent economic growth , which Chris Christie subsequently matched. Never mind Scott Walker's attempt to one-up them both, with a pledge of (wait for it) 4.5?percent growth. And ignore Mike Huckabee's slightly higher ambition, recently offered in Iowa, of a whopping 6 percent growth.
Vote for me, my fellow Americans, and I swear I'll lavish this great nation with 100 percent growth. That's right: Let's double this sucker already! Some may call my promise - like those offered by other candidates - ridiculous, pulled from thin air rather than from rigorous economic analysis or even kindergarten-level arithmetic. Given that annual economic growth has averaged just 2.4?percent over the past two decades, critics may consider my ambitions naive or disingenuous. Delusional, even.
But I say dream big, America. If we're going to delude ourselves, let's at least delude ourselves on a higher order of magnitude. Plus, unlike other candidates, who offer scant substantiation for their underachieving economic assurances, I actually have a road map for my expansionary aims. Step one: Wage a really, really big war.
Wars can be great for economic growth, and not only because they have historically required ramping up production of tanks, jets and Hershey's bars. If we (or others) can manage to destroy the capital stock of our economic rivals while sustaining no damage to our own - which is, you know, basically what happened in World War II - we'll be perfectly positioned for another global-competition-free, postwar economic boom. This little artifact of the last postwar era, and how much it explains the robust mid20th-century growth rates that my presidential rivals now pine for, has curiously eluded others' policy plans. Step two: Contra Donald Trump, I say open the borders.
Much of our rapid-fire postwar economic growth was also attributable to women's rising labor force participation rates, which tapered off at the turn of the 20th century. Since there's little appetite today for the kinds of policies that would keep more women in the labor force, we should replicate this postwar output booster by increasing the ranks of another demographic already eager to work: young, strapping, able-bod- ied immigrants. Step three for expanding the economy: expand what gets counted as "the economy."
Think about it. When Italy began including prostitution, illegal narcotics and alcohol smuggling in its output measure last year, its economy magically got one full per- cent bigger overnight.
Now consider all the black market transactions that go untallied in the United States' official economic ledger. If we also throw in non-market household production such as unpaid child-care and housework - gotta nab that homemaker vote! - we can add another 26 percent or so to the size of our economy. All, mind you, instantaneously, and requiring none of the painful decisions and trade-offs usually involved in economic policymaking. Step four: Don't just redefine the boundaries of the economy; redefine economic growth itself.
In the past we've always focused on how quickly the U.S. economy expands over the course of a single year - that is, "annual growth rates." I propose we instead measure how quickly we can grow over a full two decades - what I like to call "bidecennial growth rates." For example, compare the size of our economy today to that in 1995. In raw, unadjusted dollar terms, we have already more than doubled in size over that period, if you use my innovative "bidecennial growth rate" metric.