Saturday, August 28, 2004

The White House has released its definitive report on President Bush's record during his term in office ("President George W. Bush: A Remarkable Record of Achievement," Aug. 2004*), in which it lays out all of the reasons why Bush deserves another four years in office. I must admit that it is convincing, and by "is" I mean "appears". In the conclusion, we are told that ...

The economy "has grown at the fastest rate of any major industrialized nation," although this has no bearing on the amount of growth; if reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the US Census Bureau are any indicators, the economy - with stalled job growth (only 32,000 new jobs in July), stagnant household income, an increase in poverty (up to 12.5% nationally), and a very substantial trade deficit ($55.8 billion) - is in trouble. But, nevermind; in addition to our economy having "grown at the fastest rate of any major industrialized nation" (that is, presumably, of any other member of the G-8: the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, Canada, and Mexico), its growth is "as fast as any in nearly 20 years"! Where were we 20 years ago, anyway? Oh, right: 1984, just out of a recession under Reagan. Great frame of reference there.

We are told that "nearly 1.5 million jobs have been created since August 2003 and 1.3 million new jobs have been created this year alone," although, conveniently, it is not specified whether this means net job creation. My guess is no. Why talk about all the jobs we've lost? No point there. Also, the unemployment rate "today is below the average unemployment rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s," though it is omitted that once one's unemployment runs out, one is no longer counted as 'unemployed', and so the figure is probably bound to be a lot higher, when it is also factored in that job creation has stalled and a couple million jobs were lost since the beginning of the recession that began in March 2001.

More spinned figures are trotted out piecemeal by the Executive, concerning productivity, stock market gains (hardly of any effect to your average American worker), "manufacturing activity" (it appears irrelevant to point out the loss in manufacturing jobs since the beginning of Bush's tenure, which may have been accelerated after the repeal of the steel tariff, much to the detriment of the industry), "real after-tax incomes" up 11% over the past four years (nationwide, median income remains stagnant at $43,318, according to the Census report; DeNavas-Walt, Proctor, & Mills, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-226. 'Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003.' U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, Aug. 2004, p. 3), interest rates being at "their lowest levels in decades" under Bush, "homeownership" at "its highest level ever" and mortgage rates at "their lowest level in decades" with - "for the first time" - "the majority of minority Americans" owning "their own homes," etc. (So fuck record oil and gasoline prices {national average of around $2/gallon and nearing $50/barrel, respectively}! Who cares?)

Partially taking credit for achievements under the Clinton administration, we also read that, "between 1999-2000 and 2001-2002", the rate of violent crimes "decreased 21 percent" and "is now down to its lowest point in the last three decades," or since 1974, when crime rates where quite high; in addition, again partially thanks to the work done under the Clinton administration, the rate of property crime "dropped 13 percent between 1999-2000 and 2001-2002." (*, 'The Condition of America,' p. 44)

And there are other figures, many of which Bush cannot possibly take credit for, such as the figure where it is read that "recent use of ecstasy, which sharply increased between 1998 and 2001, fell by half among high school students – and past use of LSD fell by almost two-thirds." (ibid, p. 45) And, in a real nod to the Clinton administration, we read that "the largest welfare caseload decline in history occurred between 1996 and 2003, with the caseload falling 60 percent." [Isn't it amazing how the achievements of one President somehow wind up as the achievements of another?] Also, "a March 2004 study by the Council of Great City Schools, the achievement gap in both math and reading between African Americans and whites, and Hispanics and whites, is narrowing," but apparently not by any figure that the White House thought interesting enough to show. More blacks "today are finishing high school, going to college, and earning higher salaries than ever," (id.) although more are still in jail than in college. Finally, there is some "other" miscellanea that Bush has presided over but for which is somehow responsible.

A good record, yes. But what is omitted could fill a whole book, not to mention an entire record of the achievements of the Bush administration that are either not so positive but are outright bad (concerning Bush's real record on the environment and the economy, for instance). And don't forget the war in Iraq. But who wants that? Now go and re-elect this bastard on November 2. Can't change a horse mid-stream, right?

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