April's Lowdown

April 2008, Volume 10, Number 4

Edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer


What 8 years of BushCheney have done to our economy

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.

The Bush LegacyIf 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.

The 3 biggest hits to the economy

  1. Bush's tax cuts for the rich have reduced annual tax revenue available for public needs by $300 billion each year.
  2. BushCheney's occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has cost $700 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service. That's about $400 million a day. Nobel Prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz says the tab is well over $2 trillion when you add rehabilitation for injured vets, replacement of military hardware, and the value of things we could have produced (but didn't) with that money over the past seven years.
  3. Bushites have finished off the deregulation of banking that began in earnest during Bill Clinton's presidency. This ideological madness has caused the collapse of investment funds, banks, and the stock value of corporations that depend on them (which is to say most of Wall Street and much of the financial world), as well as a steep decline in the value of most homes in America and a sharp rise in the cost of living in them.

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Bushleague Management of Our Economy Then: 2001 Now: 2008
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

Getting by in America
Fair trade!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.

Bushleague Management of Our Economy Then: 2001 Now: 2008
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.

 

Bushleague Management of Our Economy Then: 2001 Now: 2008
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

Fighting it out at the tippy top
Piggy piggyThe 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!

 

Bushleague Management of Our Economy Then: 2001 Now: 2008
EARNING
Median pre-tax household income $49,158 $48,201
  • decrease for African American households under Bush
$2,766
  • decrease for Asian American households
$1,381
  • decrease for Hispanic households
$1,043
  • decrease for white households
$745
WORKING
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
LIVING
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

Defunding good government
Cowboys
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%.

Our health

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.

Bushleague Management of Our Economy Then: 2001 Now: 2008
Americans without health insurance 38.4 million 46.9 million
Children without health insurance 8.7 million
  • African American households uninsured
20.5%
  • Asian American households uninsured
15.5%
  • Hispanic households uninsured
34.1%
  • White households uninsured
10.8%
Cost of family health insurance per year $6,230 $12,106
Cost of family health insurance per month $519 $1,009
FOOD SAFETY
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%

Veterans' healthcare
Veterans' healthcare 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.

Education
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."

Bushleague Management of Our Economy Then: 2001 Now: 2008
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

New Orleans
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."

Bushleague Management of Our Economy Then: 2001 Now: 2008
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%

Bush's 2009 Budget

Bush's 2009 budget
...deals with the housing crisis by proposing to:

  • Cut the number of housing vouchers that help very poor people pay their rent by 100,000.
  • Cut the budget for housing for poor elderly people by 27%.
  • Cut the budget for housing for people with disabilities by 32%.
  • Cut the fund for repair and maintenance of public housing by 17% and eliminate funding to repair public housing damaged by natural disasters.
  • Cut the lead-hazard reduction funds by 20%.
  • Cut the block grants to cities and states for housing and community-development programs by 18%.
  • Cut low-income energy assistance by 20%.

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BREAK THE CHAIN ::: STOP THE MONEY DRAIN

George Bush and Dick Cheney have taken a hatchet to our economy. Now they're counting on John McCain and his loyal Republican minions in Congress to give their policies a third term.

We already know what's in store if we let them win -- 100 more years and trillions more dollars in Iraq, leaving hardworking families to pay the bill. We can't let it happen.

This November, let's give our Democratic President a larger Democratic Majority in Congress so we can finally tell Big Oil to take a backseat to America's working families.

-- posted by EV Rider at 7:29am, April 11, 2008
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