W is for "Work, Wealth, and our Weak Economy"

by Greg Method

Here's something to ponder: How can a failed Texas oilman possibly know what problems those of us in reality face in today's economy?

No, no, I didn't read that off a Dixie riddle cup.

Bush has been doing a lot of boasting and bragging lately about our supposedly "recovering" economy. I guess I'm not reading the right newspapers (or rather, the "right" newspapers), because all I see in the news and outside are people out of work, selling their houses, and frantically trying to get rid of their stock.

What a surprise that Enron, one of the most crooked corporations in recent years, contributed significantly to Bush's 2000 campaign, eh?

Bush has many people believe that focusing on specific problems in our economy is being "pessimistic." Consider that just four years ago when Gore debated Bush with actual facts and figures, Bush just shrugged it off by saying "fuzzy math" with that smarmy, shit-eating smirk of his.

So apparently to Bush, when discussing the economy your choices are either being "pessimistic" or a citizen of Fantasyland.

Bush has a real problem with figures and numbers. I don't think that's ever been in question. His belief is that when he makes supposedly positive claims about all the great things he's done with the economy, nobody will bother to actually check them out to see if they're true or not. After all, how dare any of us commoners hold his feet to the flame.

I'll be quoting facts, figures, and numbers this month, so I hope I'll be presenting them in a way that's easy to understand. Whenever data about the economy is reported in the media, the figures are usually what is called "seasonally adjusted." This is a measuring technique that removes factors that resulted from changes in weather, harvests, major holidays, school schedules, and others. I'm not quite sure what the benefit is other than to try to provide a better average, but ultimately it makes various figures sound "nicer" for a president. So, I'll play along with this little reindeer game.

The big thing Bush has been bragging about lately is the supposedly "low" unemployment rate, which is to show that jobs are on the rise. Unfortunately for those of us who live in reality, low is such a relative term in this case.

Since Bush adamantly refuses to reveal hard data and figures when he makes these self-congratulatory remarks, I decided to look up for myself exactly how "low" the unemployment rate really is.

I found the information I was looking for at the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Below you will see the actual official unemployment rate, as reported by Bush's own administration. I didn't tinker with any of these figures...hell, just to be safe, I lifted the HTML that they used to present it!

The only addition that I made below was listing each year's average unemployment rate, which although it's obviously not something the Department of Labor feels is important, I wanted to include so you can see how each year in Bush's term has progressed overall.

So here we go, in percent, the country's monthly unemployment rate during Bush's term....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecAnnual
(average)
2001 4.2 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.5 4.6 4.9 5.0 5.4 5.6 5.7 4.8
2002 5.6 5.7 5.7 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 6.0 5.8
2003 5.8 5.9 5.8 6.0 6.1 6.3 6.2 6.1 6.1 6.0 5.9 5.7 6.0
2004 5.6 5.6 5.7 5.6 5.6 5.6             5.6
(so far)

As you can see, it doesn't really look good. In fact from the beginning of 2001 (as in before September 11) to the end of 2003, with very few exceptions, the unemployment rate rose at a steady pace. Even for the first half of this year, although it has dropped by only fractions of a percentage point, it has still hovered between 5.5 and 6 percent.

Now, many of you might be thinking that these numbers are low. After all, they're under 10 percent, so how bad could these really be?

Well, let's take a look at the unemployment rate during another presidency. I'll just choose one at random...let's say...oh, I dunno...President Clinton!

Hey, if Bush supporters are going to parrot the "Bush has done more than Clinton" line, then let's examine that in an area that matters: jobs.

Again, according to the Department of Labor (but with my added annual averages), here is the entire unemployment rate under Clinton....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecAnnual
(average)
1993 7.3 7.1 7.0 7.1 7.1 7.0 6.9 6.8 6.7 6.8 6.6 6.5 6.9
1994 6.6 6.6 6.5 6.4 6.1 6.1 6.1 6.0 5.9 5.8 5.6 5.5 6.1
1995 5.6 5.4 5.4 5.8 5.6 5.6 5.7 5.7 5.6 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.6
1996 5.6 5.5 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.3 5.5 5.1 5.2 5.2 5.4 5.4 5.4
1997 5.3 5.2 5.2 5.1 4.9 5.0 4.9 4.8 4.9 4.7 4.6 4.7 4.9
1998 4.6 4.6 4.7 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.6 4.5 4.4 4.4 4.5
1999 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.3 4.2 4.3 4.3 4.2 4.2 4.1 4.1 4.0 4.2
2000 4.0 4.1 4.0 3.8 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.1 4.0 3.9 3.9 3.9 4.0

Just look at that. Clinton came in during a horrendous unemployment rate caused by the first Bush, and under Clinton that rate dropped quickly and continued to decrease until the very end of his term. By the end of 2000, Clinton's unemployment rate was just one tenth of a percentage point higher than his alltime low.

Now let's crunch some numbers here.

When you factor in all forty-two finished months under Bush's watch, the average unemployment rate for his term so far is 5.5 percent. For Clinton's entire eight-year term, considering that he came into office during both a recession and an unfinished war, his average unemployment rate was only 5.2 percent.

In Bush's term so far, only eight months of it saw an unemployment rate under 5 percent. While Clinton was in office, the unemployment rate was below 5 percent for forty-three months. So, only 19 percent of Bush's term so far has had an unemployment rate under 5 percent, while 45 percent of Clinton's term holds the same distinction.

I know, I know, those are just percentage points, but what about an actual amount of people without jobs? Well, let's use two examples for this. We'll take Clinton's last full month in office, December 2000, and Bush's last full month in office at this point, June 2004. Again, just in case any of you are crying foul because I'm comparing a December with a June, I remind you that all of this data is seasonally adjusted, so any influx from something like additional Christmas help at a store does not factor into this.

According to the Department of Labor, the civilian labor force, as in people over sixteen who are capable of work, for December 2000 was approximately 143,273,000 people, while the civilian labor force for June 2004 was 147,279,000 people. Based on the reported unemployment levels, in December 2000 5,587,647 people were out of work. In June 2004 8,247,624 people were unemployed. In that three-and-a-half-year span, over four million more people entered the work force, yet in the end almost three million more people were without a job. When only one fourth of the additional labor force can find work, then something else is definitely not working.

I'll do one better than that. I'll pit Christmas against Christmas. In addition to being his last full month in office, December 2000 also had Clinton's highest number of civilians working full time, as in thirty-five hours a week or more. In December 2000 approximately 114,326,000 people were working full time. Now, let's take the month under Bush's term with the highest full-time statistics, coincidentally enough December 2003. That month 114,597,000 people were working full time. Already not that much of a difference. BUT, let us now take into account the differences in the civilian labor force. As already stated, in December 2000 143,273,000 people were in the work force, while in December 2003 146,878,000 people were able to work. This means that at its peak, 79.8 percent of the work force was employed full time under Clinton, while at its peak under Bush only 78 percent worked full time. Now that's a pretty huge gap when you consider that the labor force increased by over six million people in those three years! Six million more people yet only 271,000 more full-time jobs?? That's only a 4.5 percent employment rate!

So in other words, on average, more people are unemployed under Bush than under Clinton. And that's not some vague conclusion. That is based entirely on hard data. Go ahead, do your own math...I won't be offended.

I want go even deeper with a couple of specific types of workers. Earlier I brought up how many people were working in selected months. Let us now go over the unemployment rate (in percent) among just full-time workers in Bush's term....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2001 4.0 4.1 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.8 5.1 5.3 5.6 5.8
2002 5.8 5.8 5.8 6.1 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.9 6.1 6.1
2003 5.9 6.0 5.9 6.1 6.2 6.4 6.3 6.2 6.2 6.1 6.1 5.8
2004 5.7 5.6 5.8 5.6 5.7 5.6            

And, just for comparison, here is the unemployment rate for full-time workers during Clinton's last full year in office, 2000....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2000 3.9 3.9 3.8 3.7 3.9 3.8 3.8 4.0 3.8 3.8 3.8 3.8

If you have hopefully noticed, the highest full-time unemployment rate in Clinton's last year was 4 percent, which has also been the lowest rate in Bush's entire term! Bush's best rate was equal to Clinton's worst in his final year.

In fact, based on statistics from the Department of Labor, on average 6,697,333 unemployed people a month are looking for full-time work.

And let's look at the other end of the spectrum. Here is the unemployment rate (in percent) among just part-time workers in Bush's term....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2001 4.9 4.9 4.9 5.3 4.6 5.2 5.1 5.3 4.5 5.5 5.5 5.5
2002 5.2 4.9 5.2 5.2 5.5 5.0 5.4 5.5 5.2 5.2 5.1 5.3
2003 5.3 5.5 5.5 5.4 5.6 5.9 5.5 5.3 5.7 5.5 5.1 5.3
2004 5.4 5.2 5.4 5.3 5.2 5.5            

Notice how many months show an unemployment rate of 5 percent or higher? Clinton had been well below 5 percent ever since August 2000!

Again, based on the Department of Labor's figures, on average 1,335,619 unemployed people are looking for part-time work every month.

And let's briefly discuss hourly wages. For all workers in the private sector, average hourly wages dropped thirteen times during Bush's term so far, while manufacturing hourly wages (excluding overtime) have dropped twice.

Speaking of manufacturing, here are the numbers of production workers during Bush's term....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2001 90,716,000 90,700,000 90,670,000 90,447,000 90,390,000 90,164,000 90,079,000 89,927,000 89,663,000 89,329,000 88,987,000 88,842,000
2002 88,793,000 88,768,000 88,773,000 88,642,000 88,487,000 88,425,000 88,288,000 88,214,000 88,183,000 88,206,000 88,117,000 87,895,000
2003 87,948,000 87,780,000 87,546,000 87,560,000 87,541,000 87,533,000 87,510,000 87,513,000 87,581,000 87,628,000 87,625,000 87,617,000
2004 87,750,000 87,815,000 88,126,000 88,413,000 88,686,000 88,764,000            

As you can see, until March of this year, the number of production workers dropped significantly practically every single month.

And all this leads to layoffs. The Department of Labor's public data on layoffs only goes back as far as 1995, so in these cases I'll compare the layoffs under Bush (1/01-now) to the layoffs during Clinton's second term (1/97-12/00).

First up, the number of mass layoffs for all industries. A mass layoff occurs when fifty or more workers from one business file claims for unemployment insurance during a five-week period. So for the numbers below, if you multiply each one by fifty, you'll kinda get a better idea of how many laid off people it all amounts to....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecAnnual
1997 2139 755 783 1269 1152 1238 1899 973 548 1414 1156 1634 14960
1998 2360 970 762 1253 1180 1208 2220 617 637 1553 1368 1776 15904
1999 2421 1067 880 1270 1032 1140 1741 698 717 1098 1336 1509 14909
2000 1934 1045 986 924 984 1597 1333 751 936 874 1697 2677 15738
2001 1522 1501 1527 1450 1434 2107 2117 1490 1327 1831 2721 2440 21467
2002 2146 1382 1460 1506 1723 1584 2042 1248 1062 1497 2153 2474 20277
2003 2315 1363 1207 1581 1703 1691 2087 1258 868 1523 1438 1929 18963
2004 2428 941 920 1458 988                

There's a big leap in that annual figure between 2000 and 2001, no?

Same two terms, but let's look at extended mass layoffs. An extended mass layoff occurs when fifty or more workers are without their jobs for at least thirty-one business days. So again, multiply each number by fifty for an idea of the number of actual people we're looking at....

YearQtr1Qtr2Qtr3Qtr4Annual
1997 1317 1587 1082 1697 5683
1998 1320 1563 1234 1734 5851
1999 1509 1444 1097 1625 5675
2000 1330 1271 1014 2005 5620
2001 1765 2072 1815 2697 8349
2002 1750 1905 1383 2257 7295
2003 1700 2131 1458 2057 7346

Again, a huge jump in layoffs between Clinton's term and Bush's term.

All right now, here are the total mass layoffs statistics in the private sector, again for both terms. These are actual people who filed claims which resulted in the designation of mass layoffs....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecAnnual
1997 2053 736 764 1194 1099 1077 1779 926 513 1324 1120 1579 14164
1998 2249 949 748 1201 1126 1078 2068 599 613 1481 1318 1668 15098
1999 2319 1037 836 1214 976 1029 1628 675 681 1046 1299 1457 14197
2000 1874 1022 957 893 924 1428 1248 717 885 826 1650 2604 15028
2001 1468 1473 1493 1413 1398 1902 2042 1459 1292 1767 2669 2387 20763
2002 2093 1350 1414 1457 1633 1358 1937 1190 1008 1448 2092 2396 19376
2003 2228 1322 1163 1534 1591 1397 1932 1201 799 1453 1380 1846 17846
2004 2339 905 884 1396 915                

Not good for Bush. While during Clinton's term mass layoffs hovered around the 15,000 mark annually, under Bush as much as five thousand more people a year were losing their jobs. Again, these numbers are just for mass layoffs, not firings!

But what of those reasons? Surely the companies aren't just getting rid of people left and right because they feel like it.

For these next two tables, we'll be looking at layoffs in what is called the nonfarm private sector, which coincidentally enough means those in the private sector who aren't farmers or work for them.

And again comparing the second Clinton term and the only Bush term, here is the data on people who were laid off because their company filed for bankruptcy....

YearQtr1Qtr2Qtr3Qtr4Annual
1997 33 10 11 25 79
1998 15 22 21 20 78
1999 26 31 24 26 107
2000 32 43 34 46 155
2001 75 77 61 73 286
2002 59 51 59 46 215
2003 44 65 40 26 175
2004 28        

And now, what has become a major issue in this year's election, here are the number of people who were laid off because their company decided to outsource its jobs, meaning it hired people in other countries for less money....

YearQtr1Qtr2Qtr3Qtr4Annual
1997 9 13 8 8 38
1998 6 10 11 8 35
1999 6 14 5 9 34
2000 12 9 10 12 43
2001 19 15 21 24 79
2002 16 13 18 21 68
2003 21 18 14 9 62
2004 (still being
calculated)
       

And just to throw some more numbers at you, in 2001 13.9 percent of all laid-off workers were black. In 2002 that figure jumped to 14.6 percent, and in 2003 it was still higher at 14.2 percent.

I bring up the black percentage because right now, as I type, Bush is trying to make a case why black voters should support him. As an insult to the black community's decision-making abilities, Bush asked if the Democrats have earned the black vote. Maybe instead he should have asked that 14.2 percent from last year if he has earned their vote!

Not to beat the minority card to death, but in 2001 13.4 percent of laid-off workers were Hispanic. The number climbed to 13.6 percent in 2002 and jumped to a whopping 15 percent in 2003!

Senior citizens are in the same boat. In 2001 13.2 percent of laid-off workers were fifty-five or older. In 2002 senior layoffs rose to 15 percent, while last year they rose even more to 15.6 percent.

But, perhaps not surprisingly, the "minority" who sees the most layoffs are women. In 2001 42.1 percent of laid-off workers were female. That figure climbed to 42.4 percent in 2002, and then slipped only slightly to 42.3 percent in 2003.

Another claim Bush has made is that under him, more jobs have been created. In fact, at this year's State of the Union he said "jobs are on the rise." Well, this is all relative.

Here are the numbers of nonfarm job openings during Bush's term (through May of this year). Keep in mind that during Clinton's last full month in office, December 2000, there were 4,556,000 new job openings....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2001 4,469,000 4,356,000 4,168,000 4,043,000 3,950,000 3,783,000 3,666,000 3,521,000 3,439,000 3,175,000 3,121,000 3,050,000
2002 2,966,000 2,949,000 3,070,000 2,924,000 2,965,000 2,938,000 2,979,000 3,044,000 3,010,000 3,147,000 2,927,000 2,738,000
2003 2,812,000 2,786,000 2,771,000 2,807,000 2,723,000 2,859,000 2,738,000 2,688,000 2,755,000 2,823,000 2,952,000 3,062,000
2004 2,868,000 2,906,000 3,079,000 3,135,000 3,104,000              

Not only has Bush not been able to beat the number of new job openings in Clinton's last completed month in office, but in fact Bush's alltime low is 1.8 million less new jobs than that last month!

Of course, job openings mean very little if people aren't hired to take them, so let's now look at the number of people hired for these nonfarm jobs (which may nor may not include newly created jobs, if that makes any sense). Again, for comparison, in December 2000 Clinton saw 4,978,000 people hired for jobs....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2001 4,939,000 4,799,000 4,844,000 4,743,000 4,614,000 4,528,000 4,374,000 4,425,000 4,285,000 4,549,000 4,409,000 4,112,000
2002 4,021,000 4,232,000 3,986,000 4,225,000 4,221,000 4,153,000 4,372,000 4,163,000 4,196,000 4,008,000 4,000,000 4,045,000
2003 4,038,000 3,991,000 4,003,000 3,911,000 3,958,000 4,035,000 4,014,000 4,010,000 4,061,000 4,108,000 4,135,000 4,216,000
2004 4,106,000 4,103,000 4,603,000 4,398,000 4,173,000              

That's right, in just Clinton's last full month in office, more people were hired than in any month of Bush's term so far! In fact, many months have seen one million less people hired.

So what does all this mean? Well, it all comes down to the job rate, at which the number of job openings is divided by the number of people actually hired. Again, according to Bush's own Department of Labor, here are, in percent, the monthly job rates during his term....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2001 3.3 3.2 3.0 3.0 2.9 2.8 2.7 2.6 2.5 2.4 2.3 2.3
2002 2.2 2.2 2.3 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.3 2.3 2.4 2.2 2.1
2003 2.1 2.1 2.1 2.1 2.1 2.2 2.1 2.0 2.1 2.1 2.2 2.3
2004 2.2 2.2 2.3 2.3 2.3              

Not all that great, is it? In fact, after September 2001, the job turnover rate never reached 2.5 percent again.

Here are the total number of people discharged each month from nonfarm jobs in the private sector. This includes layoffs, firings, and any other forms of job loss....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2001 1,783,000 1,205,000 1,386,000 1,397,000 1,516,000 1,595,000 1,641,000 1,824,000 1,917,000 1,958,000 1,877,000 1,855,000
2002 1,627,000 1,333,000 1,306,000 1,370,000 1,492,000 1,638,000 1,545,000 1,831,000 1,704,000 1,627,000 1,757,000 1,793,000
2003 1,866,000 1,336,000 1,281,000 1,414,000 1,308,000 1,709,000 1,532,000 1,788,000 1,607,000 1,507,000 1,530,000 1,809,000
2004 1,796,000 1,318,000 1,365,000 1,328,000 1,323,000              

As you can see, for most months, the job loss bounced between 1.5 million and two million people a month.

In the end, what it all comes down to is how many people are employed. If I may compare once more, let us look at both Clinton's second term and Bush's term so far. Here is the employment-to-population rate, in percent, for each month....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
1997 63.4 63.4 63.6 63.7 63.8 63.7 63.9 63.9 63.9 63.9 64.1 64.0
1998 64.0 64.0 64.0 64.1 64.1 64.0 64.0 63.9 64.2 64.1 64.2 64.3
1999 64.4 64.2 64.2 64.2 64.3 64.2 64.2 64.2 64.2 64.3 64.4 64.4
2000 64.6 64.6 64.5 64.7 64.4 64.4 64.2 64.2 64.2 64.3 64.3 64.4
2001 64.4 64.3 64.3 64.0 63.8 63.7 63.7 63.3 63.5 63.2 63.0 62.9
2002 62.7 62.9 62.8 62.7 62.8 62.7 62.7 62.8 63.0 62.8 62.5 62.4
2003 62.5 62.4 62.3 62.4 62.3 62.3 62.2 62.2 62.1 62.2 62.3 62.2
2004 62.4 62.2 62.1 62.2 62.2 62.3            

After April 2001, that percentage never gets to 64 percent again, while that figure is surpassed in the last twenty-eight full months of Clinton's term. In fact, only eleven months in Clinton's second term have an employment rate under 64 percent.

Face it. The Democrats know how to bring people jobs!

Even though jobs are perhaps the most important aspect of our economy, there are other issues about it that Bush has erroneously bragged about.

During the State of the Union, Bush mentioned that "inflation is low." Well, I don't know exactly which figures Bush is looking at, but according to his own Department of Labor, inflation has increased at a steady rate, just like it always has since 1982. In fact, it has increased at exactly the same rate it has since 2000, 3 percent a year.

You see, inflation is measured by how much the amount of the current Consumer Price Index among urban consumers is compared to its value within the span of 1982 to 1984. I don't know exactly what significance there is to that two-year period, but still it has become the modern monetary standard.

In the table below, the percentage points that are listed indicate the amount of increase from the 1982 value. So for example, if a listed inflation rate is 80 percent, that means that $1.00 in 1982 is now $1.80. Got it?

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2001 75.60 75.90 76.00 76.50 77.40 77.80 77.40 77.50 78.10 77.60 77.50 77.20
2002 77.60 77.90 78.50 79.40 79.50 79.70 80.10 80.60 80.90 81.20 81.40 81.60
2003 82.20 83.20 84.00 83.40 83.30 83.50 83.80 84.50 85.10 84.90 84.60 84.90
2004 85.80 86.30 87.20 87.60 88.80 89.40            

So I don't know exactly how Bush is defining "low," but if you look at just this year alone, inflation has already increased 4.5 percent since 2003! It's not "low"...in fact, it's getting higher faster!

For Christmas I'll have to send him a dictionary so he can look up "low," not to mention "decency," "tolerance," and "civil rights," since all of these terms seem to be alien to him as well.

Another curious statement Bush made was that "manufacturing activity is increasing" and that "productivity is high." Of course manufacturing activity is increasing, and that's because less and less people are being employed in the manufacturing industry, so whoever's left has to pick up the slack.

This next table shows the rate of manufacturing employment in Bush's term. Now, for reasons I don't quite understand, the Department of Labor holds the year 1992 as the golden standard when it comes to manufacturing employment, so for the following percentages keep in mind that they are in relation to 1992's employment levels. So a 150 percent rate would mean 50 percent more employment than in 1992, while a 75 percent rate would mean 25 percent less employment than in 1992. Hope that was clear....

YearQtr1Qtr2Qtr3Qtr4Annual
2001 101.1 99.1 96.8 94.1 97.8
2002 92.0 91.1 90.3 89.2 90.6
2003 88.0 86.8 85.6 85.3 86.4
2004 85.4        

With the sole exception of the first quarter of 2001, under Bush the manufacturing employment rate was below the set 1992 standards in not only every quarter but also for every annual average. In fact, the first quarter of 2004 has been the only quarter under Bush with any rise in the rate (and not by much, either). Plus, Bush is the first president to deliver an annual average rate below 1992 standards. Not good, Junior, not good.

Using the same 1992 standards, even manufacturing output under Bush is lower than it should be. Under Clinton, the annual average manufacturing output rate for 1999 was 134.6 percent of 1992's output...and in 2000 it was 138.6 percent of 1992's output! That annual rate has dropped significantly under Bush, as his 2001 annual rate was 132.3 percent, while in 2002 it was a pathetic 131.5 percent and virtually unchanged to 131.6 percent in 2003.

In fact, the only rate that has consistently increased is the manufacturing output per person, which is helped by the outsourcing of jobs to factories overseas. Now, because there are less people employed in domestic factories, in 2003 the annual average output-per-person rate was 152.3 percent of 1992's rate...while that year's average output-per-hour rate was 154.6 percent of 1992's rate. Sure, Bush can brag about that, but why would he want to??

The activity of the manufacturing industry is also monitored by the Institute for Supply Management, which releases a monthly Report on Business that details how well the industry is doing. The overall monthly score, the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), is based on numerous factors such as the number of new orders, employment, production, and others.

According to the ISM, the PMI rating for June 2004 was 61.1 percent. That only sounds impressive if you don't know that the PMI for May was 62.8 percent. The PMI for January of this year was 63.6 percent. See a pattern here?

Oh, it gets worse. Although the ISM's own PMI data for a given month seems to fluctuate, even after it's already been reported, here are some other choice months during the Bush term: 54.7 percent in September 2003; 55 percent in August 2003; 49.8 percent in June 2003; 45.4 percent in April 2003; and 50.3 percent in August 2002.

In other words, under Bush manufacturing activity is erratic at best. Employment is well below levels from just a decade ago, while overall productivity has floundered around the 55 percent mark for the better part of his term.

So maybe when Bush said "productivity is high" he meant it more like slang, as if to say "productivity is crazy, man" or "productivity is all get-out!"

Bush's bragging list also included items on home ownership. He said, "New home construction: the highest in almost twenty years."

Well, once again, he didn't supply a figure to back that claim, so I took it upon myself to look it up. The only problem is that I didn't know exactly what he meant.

You see, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development release numerous kinds of figures on new housing every month. There's individual data on new housing permits that have been authorized, new houses that have been authorized but not started, new houses that have started construction, new houses currently in construction, and new houses that have completed construction, among others. Bush is again being purposefully vague, because after all who would dare want to look into the seemingly unlikely boasting of a retard?

Usually the data that is looked at to determine what is and what isn't "new home construction" is that for new housing permits. Bush made his "highest in almost twenty years" remark in January 2004, so let's just see what we got here.

This data is according to the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is in thousands, and it is not seasonally adjusted. These are actual houses being actually authorized by actual permits....

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2001 117.0 114.3 147.7 148.6 159.8 153.9 140.6 151.4 125.2 140.2 124.4 113.6
2002 115.7 122.5 143.2 156.0 164.2 158.0 159.3 153.7 149.5 162.9 126.8 135.8
2003 126.4 128.5 148.4 167.6 169.5 175.8 173.0 169.9 169.1 182.8 130.5 147.9

These numbers look pretty impressive, don't they? Wow, it's almost like everyone in the country is getting a new home built! This truly must be our country's newest Golden Age! And to think, the numbers of new housing permits are the highest they've been in the past two decades!

Apparently Bush forgot about April 1986. Surely you remember that month, when 1,822,000 new housing permits were authorized, just six thousand less than Bush's alltime high.

Or what about May and June 1986? They respectively saw 1,702,000 and 1,737,000 new permits, each of which hover right around the second-highest and third-highest months under Bush.

Or what about May 1984 (1,694,000)? May 1985 (1,689,000)? June 1999 (1,693,000)? June 2000 (1,551,000)? Any one of these months have had equal or greater housing permit numbers than some of Bush's best months.

The point I'm trying to make on this one is that the market changes. It fluctuates back and forth. Sometimes there are good periods, and sometimes there are bad periods. That's just how the real estate market works...in every kind of economy, I should add. Yes, it's great that 1.8 million new permits were authorized last Halloween, but for Bush to say that new housing is at its highest rate it's ever been in the last twenty years is not only misleading, it's also an example of just how little he understands the market and the economy.

Besides, the amount of new houses being built doesn't really mean anything if nobody's living in them. According to the Census Bureau, the rental vacancy rate for the first quarter of 2004 was not only higher than anything in Clinton's term, but it was also the highest it's been in the last fourteen years!

In percent, here are the quarterly rental vacancy rates under Bush's term. And just FYI, the highest rate in Clinton's entire term was 8.2 percent....

YearQtr1Qtr2Qtr3Qtr4
2001 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.8
2002 9.1 8.4 9.0 9.3
2003 9.4 9.6 9.9 10.2
2004 10.4      

In other words, more and more people have to leave their homes because they can't afford to live there anymore. They have to move to other cities, crash with their relatives, and look for cheaper homes, and no doubt jobs that pay less, elsewhere.

Bush also claimed that "home ownership rates: the highest ever."

Again, when he said this in January 2004, the last seasonally adjusted homeownership rate he had access to was for the fourth quarter of 2003, which had a rate of 68.5 percent. While yes, it is higher than any rate since 1980, it is only one percentage point higher than the rate in Clinton's last quarter, the fourth quarter of 2000, which had a 67.5 percent homeownership rate.

Bush's growth is even less impressive if you know that during Clinton's second term, the homeownership rates increased by two percentage points, as it also did during Clinton's first term. So the best Bush can offer us is a slower growth rate?

Bush has also boasted that "exports are growing." Although that is true, what is also growing is the difference between what we export out and what we import into the country.

According to the Census Bureau, from January to May of this year, we brought in 230,983 more goods and services than we exported out. For some very accurate comparison, from January to May 2003 the difference was 208,734 more goods and services. And from January to May 2002, 161,734 more goods and services were imported in. So yes, exports may be growing, but imports are growing at an even faster rate. Where's the pride in that?

Of course, when it comes to the economy, Bush's biggest masturbatory orgasm has been brought on not by fantasizing about his father tying up Saddam Hussein a la Ving Rhames in Pulp Fiction, but rather this supposed massive tax cut he gave in early 2001...a sort of "thanks for not challenging the election" payola. This would have been really great if not for the fact that most of the relief (as in money actually received) from these tax cuts went to people who make at least $200,000 a year. You know, Bush's "base."

Bush believed, and still does for some reason, that his tax cuts will stimulate the economy and create jobs. In fact last December slimy Republican National Chairman Ed Gillespie said that "80 percent of the tax relief for upper income filers goes to small businesses."

Well, that's not entirely true. According to wishy-washy bipartisan fact-checking web site...um, FactCheck.org, Republicans cast a very big net when they define "small business." As far as the GOP is concerned, "small businesses" include big accounting firms, law firms, and real estate partnerships; corporate executives who receive supplemental income from renting out their condos or yachts; anyone who makes at least a dollar of profit from a hobby business; members of investment clubs who may chip in fifty dollars a month to buy stocks with others; and news personalities who are hired for speaking engagements. Boy, good thing Bush is helping out all those "moms and pops," eh?

And just this February, Bush boasted that the average tax cut per person was $1,089. That number was later readjusted to $1,586. Unfortunately, though, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, that figure is an average amount, helped in part by the wealthiest among us whose returns tipped the scales. The truth is that about half the individuals and families who received any relief only got about $470.

Bush said, "We cut the taxes on everybody who pays taxes. I don't think it makes sense for tax-cutters to say, okay, you win, and you lose. My attitude was, if you pay taxes, you ought to get relief."

I guess to disprove this I'll have to find someone who didn't receive any tax relief.

Found one.

Me!

I was gainfully employed from 1998 to the end of 2001 by a large media company. I paid taxes like everyone else did. I filed tax returns just like everyone else did. So...where was my tax relief?

I'm not alone, either. 15.1 million workers who pay federal payroll taxes for benefits like Social Security and Medicare didn't receive a tax benefit. Neither did 35.6 million individuals and families whose income was too low or who didn't pay federal income tax before the cuts. In all, 25 percent of Americans received absolutely zero tax benefit.

In fact, according to the Tax Policy Center, when you factor in all the taxpayers who, although they did receive the tax cut, did not actually receive a tax benefit, Bush's supposed average drops to $1,217!

A friend of mine was also waiting for some tax relief, but a very different kind. You see, she was a young, single mother with three kids, and she worked as close to full time as her schedule would allow. She had to, as her friends and family could only help so much. Bush promised that everyone would get a credit of $1,000 for every child under 17. She desperately needed that money. Well, the $3,000 she would have received never came...money that could have paid for food, rent, and medicine.

It was my friend's dilemma that really pissed me off about Bush's tax cuts (and just for the record, this really did happen to a friend of mine...I'm not just spinning a tale; I'm just withholding her name for her privacy). I could care less if I don't get a couple of extra bucks back that I would have preferred instead went to pay for schools and roads. But if a president can't deliver on a promise that is supposed to help millions of children who so sorely need it, then why aren't we holding him accountable? Why don't we ever hold him accountable? What the hell did he ever do to warrant getting a free pass on screwing children?!?

One thing Bush's tax cuts have done is completely deplete the surplus in the federal budget. I know that's said a lot, but it's the truth. When Clinton left office, we had the biggest surplus in our country's history. A surplus that Clinton created, following the then-record deficit created by the first, real President Bush. By the year 2000, the budget surplus was $236.4 billion, a record high.

Now here comes Gomer Pyle, who believes the way to make friends is to buy them off (hey, that would explain why he's turned a blind eye toward Saudi Arabia!). Just three years after this country's alltime highest surplus, Bush created the biggest deficit in history! Last year, the deficit plummeted to $304 billion. And just this month, this year's federal deficit is now being projected at $445 billion!

Here is a handy-dandy graphic showing our progress, according to Bush's own Congressional Budget Office....

At a GOP debate in December 1999 Bush said, "I refuse to accept the premise that surpluses are going to decline if I'm the president." Man, what the hell was he smoking??

In fact that same Congressional Budget Office said this past March that Bush's tax cuts will ultimately have no effect on the economy!

This year Bush has been trying to delude people into thinking that when John Kerry is elected, he will start taxing everyone left and right. In fact, in Pennsylvania there is an ad by Bush's campaign that flat out lies about Kerry's tax cut plans. Bush's camp claims that Kerry will raise taxes by $900 billion, a figure they pulled out of thin air! Bush's ads are essentially making threats that Kerry will increase your taxes!

Of course, none of that is true...unless you make $200,000 a year or more.

John Kerry has clearly said, in language even Bush can understand, that he will keep the tax cuts to the middle class. The only new taxes he will create will be for people who make at least $200,000. He believes it's high time for the richest among us to once again pay their fair share in taxes...and you know what, I agree.

Bush has said that while in the Senate, Kerry has "voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people." Of course, what Bush doesn't add is that many of Kerry's supposed 350-plus votes for "higher taxes" were actually made to keep taxes unchanged, to further explore tax proposals, or to simply suggest new tax proposals, among others. Hell, one 1989 vote that Bush includes on Kerry's list was simply to decide whether or not a filibuster on cuts to capital-gains tax was to continue!

But, unfortunately, facts don't matter when you're dealing with Bush. He wants to scare people into thinking that John Kerry will take their money, despite evidence and Kerry's own promise of the contrary. Bush knows the way to scare ignoramuses is by telling them their checkbook is at risk, all the while he looks the other way when the same corporations that pay for his campaigns outsource jobs overseas...or worse!

And in the end, it all does come down to jobs. Is a 5.6 percent unemployment rate the best we can do?? Shit, we've had a better economy just five years ago! And it's not all because of September 11, and it's not all because of a recession, and it's not all because of an unjust war.

I know, you might think it's unfair to blame Bush for our current economy and job rate, but hey, he wants to be held responsible! According to his own web site in August 2003....

President Bush will not be satisfied until every American who wants a job can find one; until every business has a chance to grow; and until we turn our economic recovery into lasting prosperity that reaches every corner of America.

Well, it hasn't happened, and it's time to finally hold this moron accountable for something.

And this time it will be more than just "fuzzy math."

--Greg


Link of the Month
The Truth About George: Economy
by TheTruthAboutGeorge.com