Dick Gephardt's claim to fame.

Politics and policy.
Aug. 18 2003 12:29 PM

The Best of Dick Gephardt

The bravest thing he ever did.

Dick Gephardt

Slate continues its short features on the 2004 presidential candidates. Previous series covered the candidates' biographies, buzzwords, agendas, and worldviews. This series assesses the story that supposedly shows each candidate at his best. Here's the one told by supporters of Dick Gephardt—and what they leave out.

The story: "In 1993, as House Democratic Leader, I led the fight to pass the Clinton-Gore economic plan—a plan designed to slash the deficit, invest in education, cut taxes for working families, and ask the wealthy among us to pay their fair share. … Not one Republican voted for that plan. They said it was a job killer. Instead it led to the single largest economic expansion in history. It resulted in the highest home ownership ever. It forged the lowest inflation in a generation and it created over 22 million new jobs." (Gephardt speech, Aug. 4, 2003)

Reality check: Gephardt is right about his role in passing the 1993 budget. Lacking any Republican support, he worked with Speaker Tom Foley and OMB Director Leon Panetta to keep Democrats in line. Gephardt and Panetta helped broker a pivotal deal, gaining the support of conservative Democrats in exchange for including provisions to increase congressional control of entitlement spending. They also reassured liberals who were worried about the compromise. At the last minute, Gephardt spoke on the floor to exhort the few remaining undecided Democrats. The budget passed by two votes out of 435.

Whether that budget caused the expansion, boosted home ownership, lowered inflation, and created millions of jobs is far more dubious. According to figures released by the Office of Management and Budget in 1999, the recovery from the 1990 recession started in April 1991, nearly two years before Clinton took office. Furthermore, the Dow Jones Industrial Average didn't begin skyrocketing until Republicans captured Congress in 1994. The Dow gained just 538 points during the two years in which Clinton enjoyed a Democratic Congress. The Dow then soared nearly 7,000 points in the six years during which Clinton faced a Republican Congress. And the nation's Gross Domestic Product didn't starting recording annual increases of 4 percent until 1996.

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

Ben Jacobs is a Slate intern.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Television

See Me

Transparent is the fall’s only great new show.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

  News & Politics
Damned Spot
Sept. 30 2014 9:00 AM Now Stare. Don’t Stop. The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 11:25 AM Naomi Klein Is Wrong Multinational corporations are doing more than governments to halt climate change.
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 30 2014 10:10 AM A Lovable Murderer and Heroic Villain: The Story of Australia's Most Iconic Outlaw
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 10:59 AM “For People, Food Is Heaven” Boer Deng on the story behind her piece “How to Order Chinese Food.”
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 10:48 AM One of Last Year’s Best Animated Shorts Is Finally Online for Free
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.