Apparently reading off the same talking points, top conservatives yesterday repeatedly claimed their policies have nothing to do with the sagging economy, instead blaming the previous administration. In separate interviews, Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans claimed, "we were handed a Clinton recession" and then said, "the president inherited a Clinton recession and turned it into the early stages of Bush prosperity." Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) said, "President Bush inherited a recession. We are now seeing the beginning of Bush prosperity." Gov. Bill Owens (R-CO) claimed, "I noticed that when President Bush was inaugurated on January 20th of 2001, we were already in a recession. The economic data clearly showed us that." Not only are the statements belied by the data, but the White House has gone out of its way to hide the most damning statistics about its economic policy failures.
THE RECORD - 'BUSH RECOVERY' HAS WORST RECORD IN 72 YEARS: Evans claimed, "this is a very strong economy, it continues to get stronger." But as American Progress senior fellow Scott Lilly points out, it is now all but certain that "the current administration will compile the worst record in job creation since the Hoover administration." All told, this will be the weakest "recovery" in 72 years, in terms of job growth. Additionally, wages are stagnating, personal bankruptcies are up 33 percent since 2000, and consumer confidence is plummeting.
THE TRUTH - BUSH ADMITS WE FACE A BUSH RECESSION: On 12/1/01, President Bush said, "This week, the official announcement came that our economy has been in recession since March" of 2001. This was the same month the president rammed his deficit-exploding tax cuts for the wealthy through the House of Representatives.
THE TRUTH - BUSH ECONOMIC GURU ADMITS IT IS A BUSH RECESSION: Bush's economic adviser Martin Feldstein pronounced that economic activity peaked under Bush, and then the economy headed downward. He offered "a determination that the expansion that began in March 1991 ended in March 2001 and a recession began."
THE TRUTH - OFFICIAL DATA CLEARLY SAY IT IS A BUSH RECESSION: The Washington Post reports, "The recession officially began in March of 2001 two months after Bush was sworn in according to the universally acknowledged arbiter of such things, the National Bureau of Economic Research."
THE FRAUD - WHITE HOUSE CAUGHT REVISING RECESSION DATE: Earlier this year, Business Week reported, "When economic history is rewritten with political consequences that's going too far. President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers is trying to get away with exactly such revisionist history." Specifically, the CEA's Economic Report of the President "unilaterally changed the start date of the last recession to benefit Bush's reelection bid." Instead of using the accepted start date of March 2001, the CEA announced that the recession really started in the fourth quarter of 2000. The Washington Post reported that the "shift that would make it much more credible for the Bush Administration to term it the Clinton RecessionThis simple statement masks an attack on one of the few remaining bastions of economic neutrality. For almost 75 years, the start and end dates of recessions have been set by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private nonpartisan research group."
THE FRAUD - WHITE HOUSE CAUGHT KILLING KEY JOBS REPORT: In 2003, AP reported, "The Bush administration has dropped the government's monthly report on mass layoffs, which also had been eliminated when President Bush's father was in office. The report by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded layoffs of 50 or more workers regardless of duration." Fortunately, Congress refused to go along, and the mass layoff report still exists today. This most recent monthly report, issued yesterday, showed mass layoffs were higher than a year ago and that the number of initial unemployment claims from those layoffs was "higher than any July since 2001."
THE FRAUD - WHITE HOUSE CAUGHT HIDING POVERTY DATA: Recently compiled Census data shows that under Bush, poverty has increased for three straight years and the number of uninsured Americans has hit an all-time high. But instead of being forthcoming about these statistics, the administration did all it could to bury them. According to the Washington Post, "The Census Bureau normally releases its income, poverty and health insurance figures in September." Yet this year, the Bush administration "moved the release date up a month" insuring that it did not coincide with the Republican National Convention and that its release is as far from Election Day as possible. Worse, Roll Call reported that the Census Bureau "chose to release its annual U.S. poverty figures not on the traditional Tuesday downtown at the National Press Club, but rather on a Friday afternoon at Census headquarters in Suitland, Md. a place far from most newsrooms."