RECORDS FALL UNDER BUSH
THE BIG PICTURE
By Don Monkerud
[This article was published in: The PeaceWorker, November 2004. Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based writer who follows politics.]
No matter what position you take on Bush's term as president, one aspect of his term stands out. Bush has broken more records than most other American presidents.
Although some people hold Bush responsible for a record number of hurricanes in Florida or the first time that registered automobiles exceeded the number of drivers on our nation's roads, this seems unfair. Similarly, the record 6.9 million Americans, 3.2 percent of the adult population, in prison, on probation or on parole can't be attributed to Bush, although he holds the record as the most-killing governor in the history of the U.S. for overseeing the execution of 152 prisoners while governor of Texas.
Certainly, the 2004 election is breaking records as the costliest ever. So far, big corporate money supports Bush to the tune of over $260 million - double the Bush record set in the 2000 election. The Republican Party raised another $271 million - probably another record. Bush finds many eager donors due to his tax breaks for the top 1 percent of taxpayers who received an average tax cut of $96,634. (The bottom 60 percent of wage earners received an average of $350.)
Bush came close to setting a record for the lowest corporate taxes ever. Under Bush, with one exception (1983), corporations paid the lowest percentage of total federal tax receipts (7.4 percent) since corporate taxes began in 1954.
EVERYBODY AFFECTED BY BUSH
Bush's accomplishments in the economic field have far-reaching consequences for everyone. His most recent record is the government budget deficit. Clinton left office with a surplus of $281 billion, while today's record deficit tops $477 billion. In other words, Clinton's predicted $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years turned into a $2.4 trillion deficit. This $8 trillion difference sets another record.
Economists attribute the deficit to Bush's tax cuts - four tax cuts in four years, his Medicare drug program, which does nothing to control corporate drug overcharging, and ever-increasing military spending for his invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Bush argues, "It could have been worse," and points out that the deficit is a smaller portion of the U.S. GNP than it was during WWII. At the same time, the Congressional Budget office warns that the deficit represents "unsustainable levels of debts." If re-elected, Bush promises to lock in tax cuts for the wealthy and halve the deficit - a promise that astonishes all but the most partisan economists.
Considering debts, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce projects a record $631 billion annual trade deficit for 2004. While Bush and Clinton both touted "Globalism," the Economic Policy Institute warns that the trade deficit "poses great risks for the economy" because the U.S. must borrow abroad to finance it. As foreign governments supply new funds to the U.S., borrowing leads to a devaluation of the dollar and the possibility of "a sharp recession."
Bush oversaw the loss of savings, pensions and jobs as a result of the two largest bankruptcies in American history. WorldCom, with $107 billion in losses, and his friend and financial supporter Ken Lay's Enron, with $49.5 billion in losses. According to The Financial Times, 257 companies filed for bankruptcy in 2001, and another 369 in 2002-2003. A record $382 billion in assets were lost to bankruptcy in 2002 and $240 billion in 2003.
Bush also set a record pace for more jobs lost, two million, than under any other president since WWII, and the worst job growth under any president since Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression. There were 60,707 "mass layoffs" during Bush's first three years, the most in any three-year period since record keeping began in 1995. Because of lost jobs, personal bankruptcies set a record in 2002, along with a record consumer debt that rose to almost $2 trillion in 2003. Consumer credit and mortgage debt set a record for representing a larger portion of disposable income - 22.6 percent of household assets in 2003.
These figures only scratch the surface of the economic records set under President Bush.