Krugman does a nice bit of debate preparation in today’s column. He points out several stock statements about the economy that Bush typically makes, and will probably repeat during the debate tomorrow night. He then points out why those statements are all incomplete, misleading, or wrong. I’ve taken the liberty of presenting you with a guide to some of the appropriate Angry Bear posts on each subject. (Note: this is far from an exhaustive guide; it basically just amounts to those posts on each subject that I could remember off the top of my head.)
- The recovery: Bush will claim that the economy is strong and getting stronger.
Bush is wrong that the economy is strong, and Bush is wrong that it’s getting stronger.
He will also assert that his tax cuts have helped the economy, but Bush is wrong about that, too.
- The job market: The statistics Bush will most likely use are technically correct, but highly misleading. He will claim that the economy has created nearly 2 million jobs over the past 13 months, but will gloss over the fact that this barely keeps up with population growth. As always, we must remember to apply context.
Bush will also note that the unemployment rate has fallen over the past two years, but will fail to mention that the employment rate — the percent of the population who actually has a job — has not recovered. I’ve provided another little graphical reminder of that point below.
- The deficit: Bush will shirk responsibility for the deficit, arguing that the deficit is the result of 9/11 and the recession, but Bush is wrong. He will claim that he’s on track toward cutting the deficit in half in 5 years, but Bush is wrong, and the recent tax cut extensions make him even more wrong.
- Spending proposals: Bush will say that Kerry has proposed lots of new spending. But he is wrong about how much new spending Kerry has actually proposed, and will conveniently fail to mention that he himself has proposed even more.
- Growth in government: Bush will assert that he has succeeded in reducing the rate of growth in government spending. But Bush is wrong.
- Health care: Bush will claim that his health care plan will help control health care costs, but Bush is wrong. He will claim that Kerry’s won’t, but Bush is wrong.
I hope that this guide will help you navigate your way through the morass of untrue assertions and misleading statements that Bush will make tomorrow night about his handling of the federal budget and the economy.