People like trains. Whether taking a long trip or making the daily commute, riding the rails, without the hassles of airports and the tensions of driving, can be the most sensible and pleasurable way to get from here to there.
April 2008, Volume 10, Number 4
Edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer
Harry Truman said, "No man should be allowed to be president who doesn't understand hogs." That's never been more true than it will be for the man or woman who walks into the White House on January 20, 2009.
If you've ever entered an enclosed, industrialized hog facility where hundreds of fattening porcines live out their short lives, you know that the smell of pig excrement completely redefines "stink." This stench will knock you to your knees, sear your lungs and brain, and make you scream for mercy. For nearly eight years, the White House has been a confined hog pen for corporate porkers, right-wing ideologues, imperialists, autocrats, and other swinish mess-makers. America's next president must not only set a new direction but will also have to clean up the mess and eradicate the stink left by the Bushites.
To help presidential contenders, congressional candidates and the rest of us get perspective on the odiferous legacy of the Bush-Cheney regime, the Lowdown is presenting a two-part factual accounting of the administration's achievements since 2001. This issue will feature Bush's domestic performance, and the May issue will highlight his international agenda. Hold your nose--and get out your scrubbers.
|U.S. national debt||$5.7 trillion||$9.2 trillion*|
|* Of which China holds IOUs worth $390 billion|
|Real GDP growth over prior 8 years||4.09%||2.65%|
|U.S. trade deficit per year||$380 billion||$759 billion|
|Cost of imported consumer goods||$1,147 billion||$1,954 billion|
|Value of consumer goods imported from China||$102.3 billion||$322 billion|
|(in 2007 China became #1 source of U.S. imported consumer goods)|
|Cost of one euro||$1.01||$1.45|
|Cost of one ounce of gold||$319||$892|
|U.S. budget surplus/deficit||+$236 billion||-$354 billion|
Bush says: "In the long run, Americans can be confident about our economic growth."(State of the Union speech 2008)
The facts say: While the overall economy has grown, the wages of the average worker have not even kept up with inflation. Meanwhile, nearly five million more Americans have fallen into poverty since 2001.
|Corporate profits before tax||$719.2 billion||$1,769.5 billion|
|Corporate profits after tax*||$503.8 billion||$1,351.9 billion*|
|Pharmaceutical company profits (top 9) (top12)**||$30 billion||$80 billion|
|Cost of imported consumer goods||$1,147 billion||$1,954 billion|
*Standard & Poor’s 500 top corporations’ profits more than doubled in the period 2001-2005 and reached 8.6% of Gross Domestic Product in 2006–the highest percentage of GDP on record.
**Drug-companies’ profits continue to be around 18.5% of their sales income, versus 3.1%for other top-500 companies.
|Number of billionaires||186||415|
|Their combined wealth||$816 billion||$3.5 trillion|
|Average salary of top 500 corp CEOs in 2007||$15.2 million|
|In 2006, buyout mogul Henry Kravis paid himself $51,400...an hour.|
|Bush tax cuts to the top 1% 2001-2007||$546 billion|
The top 1% include many more Wall Street financiers than CEOs. The 25 highest-paid hedge-fund managers are earning more than the CEOs of the largest 500 companies combined. Several of these fund managers are taking home more than a billion dollars a year. And guess what? Democratic party campaigns get twice as much in contributions from hedge-fund types as do Republicans!
|Median pre-tax household income||$49,158||$48,201|
|Salary of full-time minimum-wage earner in 2007||$12,168|
|Increase in productivity of American workers under Bush||18%|
|Increase in real earnings of American workers under Bush||9%|
|Total # manufacturing jobs||17.3 million||14.2 million|
|National unemployment rate||3.5%||5%|
|Number unemployed Americans||5.6 million||7.7 million|
|Number including discouraged or underemployed||9.9 million||13.5 million|
|Americans living in poverty||31.6 million||36.5 million|
|Americans going hungry according to USDA||31 million||38.2 million|
|Cost of a gallon of milk||$3||$3.79|
|Cost of a loaf of bread||$.98||$1.32|
|Rent, 2-bedroom home, Los Angeles (month)||$1,658||$2,229|
|Rent, 1-bedroom home, Boston (month)||$1,453||$2,000|
|Total consumer credit debt||$7.65 trillion||$12.8 trillion|
|Personal savings rate||+2.3%||-0.5%|
|HOMEOWNERS & RENTERS|
|Increase in number of home foreclosures from 2006||68%|
|Households currently at high risk of foreclosure||2 million|
|Households paying more than half their income for housing||13 million|
|Households unable to afford even the lowest-priced home rentals in the U.S.||2.8 million|
While military spending has grown 7.5% since Bush took office, spending on almost all domestic discretionary programs has been cut. "Discretionary" means that Congress and the administration can decide, year by year, how much each program deserves. Under BushCheney, that means less of anything that serves the common good, like (in order of size) education, highways and other ground transportation, housing assistance, biomedical research, federal law enforcement, public-health services, regulation of air traffic, and space flight.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has tracked federal spending over the course of BushCheney's reign of error and concludes that almost all of these programs have shrunk when measured in relation to the growth of the economy as a whole. The Center reports that outlays to mandated federal programs--Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid--have declined 2.4%, while discretionary programs have been cut by 3.7%.
The World Health Organization ranks U.S. health care 37th in the world, behind France (1), Singapore (6), Japan (10), United Kingdom (18), Colombia (22), and Costa Rica (36). Of six nations studied by the New York-based commonwealth Fund--Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States-- the U.S. ranks last.
|Americans without health insurance||38.4 million||46.9 million|
|Children without health insurance||8.7 million|
|Cost of family health insurance per year||$6,230||$12,106|
|Cost of family health insurance per month||$519||$1,009|
|Number of shipments of agricultural imports||4.5 million||9 million|
|Number of U.S. FDA inspectors of imports||3,500||3,488|
|Percentage of imported food inspected by FDA||1.3%|
Bush says: "We have increased funding for veterans by more than 95 percent." (State of the Union speech 2008)
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH SAYS: In 2004 nearly 1.8 million veterans were uninsured and unable to get care in veterans' facilities. An additional 3.8 million members of their households were also uninsured and ineligible for VA care. No new study has been done since 2004 but things have only gotten worse.
Bush says: "a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids [will] help liberate poor children trapped in failing public schools." Bush's Pell Grants for Kids is a plan to shift government funding from public schools to private schools, mostly Christian schools.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) says: the average adjusted school mean for Conservative Christian schools "in reading was not significantly different from that of public schools. In mathematics, the average adjusted school mean for Conservative Christian schools was significantly lower than that of public schools."
|Average cost/year at a public 4-year college||$8,400||$13,000|
|Average cost/year at a private 4-year college||$22,000||$29,000|
|Average debt shouldered by college graduates||$12,000||$21,000|
|Gap between maximum federal Pell Grant and cost of a 4-year degree in a public school||$5,282||$8,746|
Bush says: "We reaffirm our pledge to help them build stronger and better than before." (State of the Union speech 2008)
THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU SAYS: "Almost 40% of the people displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina [lived] below the poverty line last year," and "nearly a third of those who fled the hurricane could not find jobs last year, and thousands more [had given up] trying."
|Average price of a gallon of home-heating oil||$1.40||$3.39|
|Average price of a gallon of gas||$1.47||$3.14|
|Portion of our liquid fuels imported||52.75%||60.38%|
...deals with the housing crisis by proposing to:
And, sign up for monthly issue announcements and breaking news: