Saturday, September 12, 2009

Closing The Book On The Bush Legacy

Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic
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. …

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 (14 per cent), … 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. [emphasis added] … "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. …

Bush built his economic strategy around tax cuts, passing large reductions both in 2001 and 2003. Congressional Republicans are insisting that a similar agenda focused on tax cuts offers better prospects of reviving the economy than President Obama's combination of some tax cuts with heavy government spending. But the bleak economic results from Bush's two terms, tarnish, to put it mildly, the idea that tax cuts represent an economic silver bullet. …

The wretched two-term record compiled by [George W.] Bush on income, poverty, and access to health care should compel Republicans to answer a straightforward question: if tax cuts are truly the best means to stimulate broadly shared prosperity, why did the Bush years yield such disastrous results for American families on these core measures of economic well being?

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