Friday, February 01, 2008

The Bush II economic record - A reality check

As Dean Baker points out (in The American Prospect), too many reporters who write on economic issues are excessively credulous or uninformed, with the result that they confuse political propaganda with realistic analysis. The following is a fraudulent talking point from the Bush II administration that has already been floating around and that we will undoubtedly hear some more, so it's worth disposing of it now. (Also nailed by Paul Krugman.)

--Jeff Weintraub
Beat the Press:
Dean Baker's commentary on economic reporting

January 27, 2008
Why Would Presidents Envy Bad Growth?

The NYT had a piece today on President Bush's economic legacy. In the second sentence it tells readers that:

"Mr. Bush has spent years presiding over an economic climate of growth that would be the envy of most presidents." adding that "Yet much to the consternation of his political advisers, he has had trouble getting credit for it, in large part because Americans were consumed by the war in Iraq."
Is that right? Let's check the numbers. Here the ranking of the presidential terms since 1960 by average annual GDP growth:

Kennedy-Johnson -- 5.2%
Clinton -- 3.6%
Reagan -- 3.4%
Carter -- 3.4%
Nixon-Ford -- 2.7%
Bush II --2.6%
Bush I --1.9%

President Bush's growth record is better than his father's, but it is worse than the record of every other president in the last half century. It's not clear why they would be envious. It is also not clear what his political advisers have to complain about. [....]