Bush On Jobs: The Worst Track Record On Record<quoted text>
US News Money
Bush was as unlucky as his immediate predecessor, Bill Clinton, was lucky. Clinton inherited an economy that was revamped and re-energized in the 1980s that had been growing for seven-straight quarters when he took office in 1993 and he benefited tremendously from the the Internet revolution and left office just months before a recession began and America was hit by the worst terrorist attack in human history.
Then there was the Federal Reserve chairman. While Alan Greenspan played the economy like harp during the Clinton years, "The Maestro" hit a series of bum notes during the Bush years - especially his decision to keep interest rates too low for too long.
Even so, there was 52 straight months of job growth and worker productivity - the most important long-term indicator of the core health and competitiveness of an economy - had risen at a really impressive 2.6 annual rate during the Bush years vs. 2.0 percent for Clinton and 1.6 percent for Reagan.(That fact from the Wall Street Journal.)
The World Economic Forum says the U.S. had the most competitive economy in the world. The economic rebound after the pro-growth 2003 tax cuts was no mirage.
By 2004, the surplus of 2000 had turned into a budget deficit of about 4% of nominal GDP but the bold fiscal response to the 2001 recession hastened the recovery and, by 2007, the deficit had declined to 1% of GDP. There would have been a small surplus in 2007 had it not been for the $200 billion tab for the commitments in the Middle East and the aid to the New Orleans area from Hurricane Katrina.
Bush certainly didn't change America's long-term fiscal situation by fixing Social Security or Medicare, and the drug benefit materially worsened it, but Bush tried solving the Social Security mess but failed. Nor did he push fundamental tax reform such as moving toward a flat or consumption tax.
The real average hourly wage for workers as calculated by the Labor Department was just 1% more than it was at the end of 2000; yet, many economists, including those at the Fed, think the government had been overestimating inflation by nearly a full percentage point and, if true, workers actually saw wages rise by about 10% over the decade without even tweaking the inflation data of combined wages, salaries and benefits.
Bottom line: Bush's successes were destined to be overshadowed by the imploding housing and credit bubbles. They were the economic equivalents of IEDs and they blew up at the end of his second term. The causes? Everything from Fed monetary policy to government housing policy to cultural dysfunction on Wall Street and Main Street. But as teenagers like to say, "Too bad, so sad." Bush was president and Big Media had declared its summary judgment: Failure.
(Pethokoukis has written for many publications including USNews & World Report, The New York Times, The Weekly Standard, Commentary, USA Today and Investor's Business Daily. Pethokoukis is also an official CNBC contributor and has appeared numerous times on MSNBC, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, The McLaughlin Group, CNN, and Nightly Business Report on PBS.)
(That fact from the Wall Street Journal.)