Just how stupid does Don Luskin think his readers are?

The political scene is getting ugly, but the Kerry economists must have been chucking when they emailed out Don Luskin’s latest from the National Review on August 13, which is entitled “The Art of Trash-Talking a Good Economy: Just how stupid does John Kerry think the voters are?” It states in part:

He [Gene Sperling] made his optimistic statement to The Washington Post eight years ago, on May 4, 1996, back when he was an economic advisor to the Clinton administration. His words came right after it was announced that only 2,000 jobs were created in the economy the previous month, with 17,000 jobs lost in the manufacturing sector. For the previous quarter, real GDP growth ran at only 2.85 percent, which was a drop from the prior quarter. Sperling was optimistic back then, when the news was tangibly worse than it is now. And what is Sperling saying now, when the news is tangibly better? For some reason he’s not quite so optimistic when the other team occupies the White House.

He finds one quarter where real GDP growth was less than 3% but forgets to tell his readers that average annual growth was 3.7% during the Clinton years. Yet, he touts a few quarters of good growth under Bush but fails to tell his readers that growth will likely average only 2.5% per year for the Bush term. But WHO announced only 2000 jobs were created in April 1996? Never mind the fact employment grew by 23 million jobs over Clinton’s 8 years and grew by 2.8 million in 1996 alone. BLS reported a 165 thousand increase in employment during April 1996. Maybe Luskin was the one who announced this grossly incorrect number?

He makes one decent point in this whole article:

In the same speech Kerry claimed that the new jobs created during Bush’s first term “pay $9,000 less than the jobs that have been lost.” That’s a lie, too. Any honest economist could have told Kerry that statistics are detailed enough to prove that such a specific claim simply does not exist.

Fair enough but doesn’t this also mean that the Bush camp is also lying when they says the new jobs pay more than the jobs lost? But if Luskin thinks spinning the numbers is lying, let’s read on:

This is just one of dozens of examples of the hypocritical and dishonest ways the Kerry campaign is trash-talking the economy. Consider some things Kerry himself said… For example, he claimed that “here at home, wages are falling.” That’s a lie. According to official numbers from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly earnings have risen 2.1 percent after adjustment for inflation since George W. Bush took office. Over the comparable period in President Clinton’s first term, they rose only four-tenths of one percent….While it would be nice to have the unemployment rate back down to 3.8 percent — where it briefly stood for one manic month four years ago at about the same time the Nasdaq was at 5,000 — at 5.5 percent today, it is better than the average rate of the past half century. More, the current unemployment rate is exactly where it was at the comparable point of the “Clinton prosperity,” those halcyon days that Democrats never stop waxing nostalgic about. And in terms of overall economic growth, you don’t have to be nostalgic. These are the good old days. Gross domestic product adjusted for inflation has grown over the last twelve months at a faster clip than during any twelve-month period of the eight-year Clinton administration.

OK, we have already dealt with his GDP spinning (or was this his lying). But average unemployment? We’ve noted before that the unemployment rate was 7.4% in December 1992 and fell to 3.9% by December 2000 only to start rising during the Bush years. But to say Kerry is lying about real wages falling is itself a lie. Let’s review the facts: over the 1997-2001 period, real wage growth averaged 1.7% per year with a 2.1% increase in 2001 with real wages (1982$) hitting $8.30 per hour. As of July 2004, real wages were only $8.20 per hour.

So what did we learn? That Luskin considers spinning a lie, so the fact that he does nothing but spin …Oh, we also learned that he does not like Gene Sperling. You think Sperling really cares since the Kerry economists emailed this the day it was published?

Update: Factcheck.org’s Kerry’s Dubious Economics may have been one of Luskin’s sources and writes:

Kerry also said “wages are falling” when in fact they are increasing. It’s true wages haven’t kept up with inflation for the past several months. But even after adjusting for inflation they’re still higher than when Bush took office.

Actually, Kerry said “real wages are falling”. So does Factcheck not understand that “wages haven’t kept up with inflation” = real wages are falling?