Bush League Economy

In baseball, bush league refers to the lowest level – a metaphor that perfectly fits the economic performance of the George W. Bush administration.  It’s even more appropriate given that Bush made millions by gaming the City of Arlington and its citizens as “Managing Partner” of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

In short, the people of Arlington got screwed.  Not entirely unlike what Bush did to the people of the United States as our 43rd President.

This is no longer just opinion.  It’s fact.

According to a recent report by the Census Bureau, the median household income in the U.S. declined 4.2 percent during Bush’s two terms.  At the same time, the number of Americans living in poverty increased 1.9 percent to 39.8 million (the most since 1960).  More disturbing is the number of children now living in poverty:  When Bush entered office 11.6 million children were living in poverty.  When Bush left office, that number had swollen to nearly 14.1 million.  That’s an astonishing increase of more than 21 percent!  Under Bush, job growth was a dismal .28 percent – the worst performance since World War II.  The number of Americans employed in manufacturing dropped beneath 10 percent for the first time in history.  And the number of Americans without health insurance increased to 15.4 percent.

On every major measurement, the economic condition of American people declined during the Bush administration!  The housing industry crashed, the financial industry collapsed under the weight of its own risky gambles, stock markets crashed and two out of the Big Three U.S. auto makers faced bankruptcy.   About the only people who didn’t suffer under Bush’s watch were oil executives, military contractors, hedge fund managers and the extremely wealthy.

Predictably, the Republicans are now trying to reassign the economic blame to President Obama.  They accuse him of increasing the size of government, increasing the size of the federal debt, and taking over private businesses.  Let’s look at the facts:

The government, the deficit and the national debt all grew under President Bush.  The Department of Homeland Security represented a huge growth in government.  But the growth of government under Bush wasn’t confined to just the one department.  (In the first 3 months of 2008 alone, the federal government added 13,800 jobs under Bush.)  The deficit and debt under Bush increased in large part as the result of Bush’s misadventures in Iraq.  The real cost of that war is estimated at anywhere from $2-3 trillion, and some estimate that the cost of the Afghan war will overtake the Iraq war in 2010. 

The bailout of financial institutions is estimated at $3 trillion.  Approximately one-half of that was approved by the Bush administration.  And none of the money would have been necessary if not for the Republican’s aversion to regulation of financial institutions.

Finally, you can’t blame President Obama for the takeover of the U.S. auto industry.  Indeed, we all should thank him for it.  Had the Bush administration not allowed wild speculation of commodities, oil would not have spiked as they did in 2008.  Had that artificial spike not been followed by the collapse of our financial institutions, the auto industry would never have experience such severe problems.  And had the Obama administration not stepped in to help, the economy may well have fallen into another depression.