In politics a deception often becomes accepted truth through continuous, unchallenged repetition.
With less than six months left before the mid-term election, President Obama and the Democrats appear to have contrived a deception they hope will overcome two major negatives:
- The gargantuan “stimulus,” jammed through Congress before it was even printed, let alone read by the Senators and Representatives who voted for it, will add a Trillion dollars to government debt. But it did not deliver the immediate job creation results that were promised. Instead, job losses continued for eleven months and the unemployment rate has soared much higher than promised.
- Massive tax increases, especially on small businesses, the engine of job creation, are set to begin next January.
The disinformation campaign targeting voters who don’t have the time or the inclination to pay close attention to political news or to dig out the truth behind the soundbites has begun. Over the weekend we saw a preview as talking heads repeating a new soundbite, paraphrasing a claim first made last week in the National Journal:
There will be more job creation in 2010 than in the entire eight years of the Bush Presidency
The intended message is that tax cuts – Bush’s job creation initiative – didn’t work, while the borrow-and-spend stimulus did. But the facts presented below contradict this deceptive message. First, a quote from the source of the sound bite the National Journal article:
From February 2001, Bush’s first full month in office, through January 2009, his last, total U.S. nonfarm employment grew from 132.5 million to 133.5 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s an increase, obviously, of just 1 million. From January through April of this year, the economy created 573,000 jobs. Over a full year, that projects to 1.72 million jobs.
Some, but not all the data that make this claim far less profound than it seems are mentioned later in the article. Of course none of the details will ever be supplied by propagandists who will repeat the soundbite a thousand times between now and election day.
To present the whole story we begin with a review of the Bush Administration jobs record
- The dot-com bubble burst early in 2000, triggering an economic downturn. The Nasdaq, home of most tech stocks fell 45% in ten months. The predictable job losses began in January, 2001, the month Bush was inaugurated.
- A total of 1.8 million jobs were lost in 2001 as the recession continued and then the 9-11 terrorist attacks forced thousands of businesses to cut back or shut down completely.
- Bush responded by pressing Congress to enact the tax cuts he had promised during his campaign. Congress finally agreed to a schedule of tiny incremental reductions in tax rates to be phased in over several years. This proved ineffective and job losses continued through 2002 and into 2003.
- In May of 2003 Bush persuaded Congress to abandon the incremental tax rate reduction schedule and enact large, comprehensive tax cuts all at once, retroactive to January, 2003.
- Job growth began in September and continued for 51 months for a total of 8.1 million new jobs.
Another recession and the financial crisis hit in 2008 and 4.4 million jobs were lost by January, 2009 when the Bush Administration ended.
So without trying to either promote or criticize President Bush, an objective summary of his eight years would be:
- 32 months of job loses, totaling 2.6 million, caused by the dot-com recession and the 9-11 terrorist attacks,
- 51 months of job growth following the 2003 tax cuts, totaling 8.1 million new jobs.
- 13 months of sharp job losses, totaling 4.4 million, due primarily to the financial crisis.
Obviously, Bush made plenty of mistakes, and the final year of the his Administration was an economic nightmare with soaring unemployment. The debate continues over the cause of the financial crisis, whether it was government malfeasance through the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or the simplistic “greed on Wall Street” we hear from Obama. But nobody can possibly make a case that the tax cuts of 2003 somehow caused the banking crisis and job losses of 2008.
The Bush tax cuts of 2003 demonstrated, for the third time, that reducing tax rates is an effective action the government can take to help the private sector generate more jobs and more prosperity. The first time was under President Kennedy in the Sixties. The second time was under President Reagan in the eighties.
But Obama and the Democrats are invested in raising, rather than lowering tax rates, and expanding the power of government through huge spending increases. Their hope is to exploit the generally negative public attitude toward George W. Bush and prevent voters from examining the data or remembering that more than four years of continuous job growth followed the tax cuts of 2003.
Another point of dishonesty in the National Journal article is the apples to oranges comparison. The article judges the Bush jobs record from the beginning of his administration, when the economy was already in recession. If Obama were judged on the same standard he would now be at minus 3.4 million jobs. But the National Journal scores Obama at Plus 573,000 by starting the count in his 12th month, even though his policy response, the trillion dollar stimulus, was enacted in third week of his Presidency, on the promise that it would, in his words, “immediately jumpstart job creation.”