October 15, 2004
Kerry's Worst Lie--The bad job market debunked
(This post will stay on top for awhile)
I was stunned last night as John Kerry continued to retell a falsehood over and over and no one called him on it. In fact, it was the biggest whopper of the night. His lie was not a simple twisting of words. His lie was not a faulty memory. It was a down and dirty lie. What was it? From the WAPO transcript:
And this is the first president in 72 years to preside over an economy in America that has lost jobs, 1.6 million jobs.In a number of earlier posts I thought I had disproved this myth, but perhaps John Kerry just hasn't gotten word yet. So, let me restate some of the conclusions drawn in those earlier posts. Also, will the rest of the blogosphere do their damn jobs and call Karl Rove, Fox News, and the rest of the VRWC so we can finally put the 'worst job recovery ever' lie to rest!
Eleven other presidents -- six Democrats and five Republicans -- had wars, had recessions, had great difficulties; none of them lost jobs the way this president has.
Let's look at the numbers, keeping in mind that the job numbers have improved since I last analyzed them. If we were to include the latest numbers, Bush's record would look even better. All numbers were gathered from the official Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
The above clearly shows that Bush is not the only President to preside over an economy that has lost jobs. In fact, only by manipulating the data could John Kerry even come close to turning his statement into a half truth. For instance, one could argue that Ronald Reagan created jobs in his Presidency while G. W. Bush has not. Technically, that might be true. But notice how I worded that statement. Reagan's Presidency was eight years long, Bush has yet to complete four. How can you compare eight years to less than four? If you were to look at Ronald Reagan's job creation record at a similar point in his Presidency, you would see that he also was Presiding over an economy that had lost net jobs.
The thing that miffs me the most about John Kerry's statement is that it is empirically falsifiable. This is not opinion, this is fact. Why isn't the MSM calling him on it? They seem eager to challenge both candidates on their misstatements and memory lapses, but not when John Kerry repeats a falsehood over and over and over again which is easily disproved.
Now, one might argue that sure, other Presidents have presided over job losses, but that still doesn't reflect well on Bush. Point well taken. But by repeating the lie that Bush is the only President in our nation's recent history to have such bad luck is, well, repeating a lie. Again, do you recall Ronald Reagan as the jobs loss President or as the President that oversaw the 1980s boom? If current trends in GDP growth and job creation continue, the same thing will be said about G. W. Bush. Give him another four years, you'll see.
Another point before moving on. One of the reasons the unemployment numbers seem to look so bleak to so many, hence their willingness to accept the Kerry lie, is that they fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the economy and unemployment numbers. When G. W. Bush came into office he inherited an economy that was just beginning to slide from an artificially low employment level. During the late 1990s, the unemployment level was much lower than at any time in the past 30 years. So, even though present unemployment levels are also below the historic averages--even lower than unemployment during the Clinton years--they are higher than the extreme lows.
What does this mean? Well, imagine a baseball player who is batting .350 for 7 years. Pretty darn good average to me!! Now, in his eighth and ninth year he bats .400. Wow, now that is more than impressive. Now we're talking Hall of Fame. In his tenth and eleventh year he bats .360. Still pretty good, right? Now imagine a sports broadcaster calling his newer average a slump. Would that be fair? He defends his use of the word slump by saying, "look, this ballplayer is hitting far worse today than he was just last year!"
That is exactly the situation we find ourselves in today. It's not really as bad as Kerry and the MSM want you to think it is--it's just that the last few years of under the Clinton administration were unusually good economic times. In fact, you might say that we were on a hitting streak in the economy, but that now we've come down from the high. Were still doing much better than average, just not as good as we did while the economy was on steroids.
The average unemployment rate during Clinton's first four years was 6.4%. Not spectacular, but the trend was good in that it steadily improved over time. The average unemployment rate for the G.W. Bush Presidency is (through Sept. 04) 5.5%--and still improving. Today's 5.4% unemployment number is also lower than the average for the past 30 years.
So, why does it seem to so many people that the unemployment situation is bad? Well, laying aside the media's tendency to repeat Kerry's lies and also their fascination with bad economic news amidst a sea of good news, let's go back to the baseball analogy. The unemployment rate was lower in the Clinton administration, but only if you do not include the first four years of his eight year Presidency. Do you get it now? Clinton was in office nearly four years before the unemployment rate fell below 5.4% and stayed there. How long has Bush been in office again? Less than four years.
Further, most economists would argue that an unemployment rate of anything lower than 5% is simply unsustainable. It will lead to inflation and eventually to a recession--exactly what began to happen in the months previous to Clinton leaving office.
Last, let me show you some numbers I ran a few months ago, keeping in mind that unemployment is lower today than when I initially ran them. John Kerry keeps invoking the economy that Clinton presided over as his model of how he thinks today's job market ought to look. Let me show you a couple of graphs that very few in the MSM want you to see.
The first graph shows the total number of people officially listed as unemployed (x 1000). The second graph shows the unemployment rate. Both graphs show a 13 month period. For Clinton this was from Jan. 1992 to Jan. 1993. Even though the the economy was recovering before he took office, I chose that month because Clinton cannot be credited with any jobs prior to his coming to office. For Bush, the graphs show June 2003 (peak unemployment) to June 2004 (latest data available).
I'll let you be the judge on which recovery is better.
Last, let me remind my readers--once again--that Bush inherited a recession and Clinton inherited a recovery. This is fact, not opinion.
This NY Times Op-ed piece (sorry, subscribers only) by former Secretary of State, George Schultz is helpful in proving this point:
These charts [reproduced below] show the rate of change in real gross domestic product and in employment from 1990 to last June. The shaded areas show recessions. The vertical lines show when President Bill Clinton took office and when he left. Because the economy has momentum, it's useful to look carefully at the trends in evidence at the time of presidential transitions. When you look at the record, a quick summary is this: President Clinton inherited prosperity; President Clinton bequeathed recession.Here is the chart, click it for a larger view:
Source: NY Times
Check out my previous posts on the subject:
'Worst Recovery Ever' III
Clinton 'Miracle Economy' v. Bush 'Jobless Recovery' 3-D
Bush 'Jobless Recovery' vs. Clinton 'Miracle Economy'
'Worst Recovery Ever' and Other Lies