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June 14, 2010


Shouldn't we evaluate claims verbatim?

The representative clearly made the claim that the rate of job creation over the last four months extrapolated over 12 months would result in more jobs created than the entire Bush admin. Fine. Is she wrong about that?? The graphs and quotes you've presented don't address this question.

In the best of circumstances, Wassermann-Shultz would note that such a record would result in a net gain of X jobs over the tenure of Obama's presidency. She didn't do that. Call her out about that.

But what you're doing in this post is trying to suggest that she's making a claim (that the number of employed individuals now is greater than under Bush) that she is not making.

If we're going to parse politicians claims so closely, we should parse complaints about those claims just as closely.

Brendan has pointed out some similarity between the Rep claim and the Dem claim, but there are some significant differences:

1. The Reps boasted about actual job gains; the Dems boasted about job gains that were mostly a projection, thus dubious. Also, most of the Dem gains were temporary Census workers, making that full-year projection even more dubious.

2. The two charts criticized here show vastly different numbers of jobs actually gained. The actual gains shown under Bush (from the low point) were about ten times as many as those under Obama (during a much shorter period).

3. The Reps looked at jobs, period. The Dems practice scapegoating by presenting a distorted comparison with Bush's results.

4. Although I don't have the figures at hand, I believe a comparison of non-government workers would show an even bigger disparity in Bush's favor. Obama's expansion of government has failed to stimulate private employment.

I would add that for many years the New York Times seems to have had an unwritten rule that when an editorial criticizes Dems, it must include some criticism of Reps.

Maybe Brendan is applying the same rule here. He has often has posted criticisms of Reps. I can't recall any those posts including matching criticism of some Dem from five years earlier.

Is this really "one of the ironies of the Obama presidency"?

Anyone who expected this administration to be less political (i.e. more transparently honest) in it's pronouncements and analysis than any other administration, including Bush II, surely reveals their gullibility.

Politicians will always paint the picture most favorable to their position. This is why many are so uncomfortable giving any politician more power and authority, as they will nearly always use it primarily to promote themselves.


Brendan may want to check the links below before he chooses Media Matters as a reference in a post criticizing media truthfulness or magical thinking:



I argue that Rep. Wasserman Schultz's specific claim is misleading. The Bush-era Treasury chart does not purport to make any claims about the history of employment during the entire Administration. It is instead attempting to show the timing correlation between the tax cuts and the return of employment growth.

The Treasury chart supports the argument, "The 2003 tax cuts contributed to the strong employment growth that began a few months after those tax cuts became law." If one were also to include the prior 2.5 years of employment history, it would only reinforce that argument.

I don't have a problem with advocates choosing timeframes to make their case. I do have a problem with advocates using timeframes to lead listeners to an incorrect policy conclusion. I think Rep. Wasserman Shultz's statement does this. Some of that may be in the eye of the beholder, but I believe there are objective standards against which claims can be measured.

I don't see how the Treasury chart is similarly misleading. If there's an argument that it is, I'd like to hear it.


Looked at from the vantage of a few years' remove, Bush's tax cutting policy, beginning with the signing of the first tax bill in June of 2001, is an example of an economic stimulus that worked.

Remember that the country was in a mild recession when Bush took office in 2001. The events of September 11th and the wars beginning in Afghanistan in October 2001 and in Iraq in March 2003 created great economic uncertainty in the US.

Compare the economic performance of the US in the 2002 through 2006 period with that of virtually all the other first world economies, and you see a clearly better result in the US. The primary cause of that result was Bush's tax policy, which differed distinctly from that of the EU and Japan.

Contrary to what certain pundits and many Democrats today would have you believe, US tax receipts in this period grew sharply and the tax burden was borne more and more by the wealthy.

The two big errors of Bush's economic policy were these:

A) Beginning in 2004, Bush did not demand and achieve a reduction in government spending at a time when the economy and employment were growing nicely without a need for government stimulus.

B) The Bush administration and the Fed cooperated with vandals in Congress like Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer and Barney Frank in an irresponsible and stupid series of actions in mortgage lending.

These mistakes added some economic stimulus that delayed the start of the 2008 recession. The cost for that extra stimulus was to turn what would have been a normal cyclical recession into a world-changing financial crisis and a much deeper recession.

A few years from now Bush's efforts at stimulus will be generally viewed as flawed in implementation, but much more effective and smarter than the disasterous wastes, bailouts and payoffs of the Obama policy.

a: the tax receipts did go up due to growing income, but the growth in income (it should be crystal clear at this point) was due almost entirely on credit! Greenspan held the rates down and the credit flowed - creating houses and yes jobs. This was obviously not sustainable.

b: I don't think it's cherrypicking to claim that "we will have created more jobs in this year than in the entire Bush presidency"; it's just a question of net vs. gross.

there's more of course, but I can leave it there for now....

Brendan is correct in his accusation of "Cherrypicking". Wasserman started her graph at the low point, thus looking at at rate of job creation during an expansion period.

During both President's terms, employment fell then rose. It's cherrypicking to compare rate of job creation during Obama's period of growth against a Bush net figure that includes both periods of job loss and periods of job growth.

Liam McCarthy, do you think Obama's economic stimulus actions are more sustainable than Bush's?

Are you aware of the decline (collapse, really) of tax receipts over the last year or so?

Are you aware of the effect of temporary government census jobs on the recent job creation numbers?

Are you aware of the plunge in new housing starts that occurred as soon as the Obama housing stimulus program expired in May?

Do you be honestly believe that the Obama administration will have really created more jobs in 2010 than were created in the entire Bush presidency?


The comparison ought to be if at all with the nadir and peak during each presidency if the term is "create jobs."

This is abhorent.

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