Friday, September 18, 2009

Closing The Book On The Bush Legacy: It Was a Disaster.

George Bush's final report card has come in and it can be no surprise to anyone who was paying attention that it is an utter disaster for ordinary working Americans.

Thursday's annual Census Bureau report on income, poverty and access to health care-the Bureau's principal report card on the well-being of average Americans-closes the books on the economic record of George W. Bush.

It's not a record many Republicans are likely to point to with pride.

On every major measurement, the Census Bureau report shows that the country lost ground during Bush's two terms. While Bush was in office, the median household income declined, poverty increased, childhood poverty increased even more, and the number of Americans without health insurance spiked. By contrast, the country's condition improved on each of those measures during Bill Clinton's two terms, often substantially.
The notion that the economy can be revived through tax cuts alone is exposed here as the fantasy which it always was. Bush pushed through two huge tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 and the results are laid bare here for all to see.
Rightly or wrongly, voters still judge presidents and their parties largely by the economy's performance during their watch. In that assessment, few measures do more than the Census data to answer the threshold question of whether a president left the day to day economic conditions of average Americans better than he found it.

If that's the test, today's report shows that Bush flunked on every relevant dimension-and not just because of the severe downturn that began last year.

Consider first the median income. When Bill Clinton left office after 2000, the median income-the income line around which half of households come in above, and half fall below-stood at $52,500 (measured in inflation-adjusted 2008 dollars). When Bush left office after 2008, the median income had fallen to $50,303. That's a decline of 4.2 per cent.

That leaves Bush with the dubious distinction of becoming the only president in recent history to preside over an income decline through two presidential terms, notes Lawrence Mishel, president of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. The median household income increased during the two terms of Clinton (by 14 per cent, as we'll see in more detail below), Ronald Reagan (8.1 per cent), and Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford (3.9 per cent). As Mishel notes, although the global recession decidedly deepened the hole-the percentage decline in the median income from 2007 to 2008 is the largest single year fall on record-average families were already worse off in 2007 than they were in 2000, a remarkable result through an entire business expansion. "What is phenomenal about the years under Bush is that through the entire business cycle from 2000 through 2007, even before this recession...working families were worse off at the end of the recovery, in the best of times during that period, than they were in 2000 before he took office," Mishel says.
I don't expect any of the idiots who used to argue on here that tax cuts for the wealthiest were actually of benefit to the whole of society to actually admit that they were wrong. Hell will freeze over before that happens.

But Bush's figures should be kept on ice to be brought out the next time any Republican argues that tax cuts are the way out of any problem.

The tax cuts which the Republicans favour help the rich and stiff ordinary working Americans. That was always the case, and Bush has simply proven it once again. Ordinary working Americans got poorer under Bush whilst the rich got richer.

Who could have seen that coming, eh?

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