Congressman John Sweeney’s Economic Amnesia

Tim O’Brien covers Bill Clinton’s trip to Albany, New York as he is supporting Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign to unseat John Sweeney. Clinton got a dig in at Sweeney with this:

Clinton also took a swipe at Sweeney for his 2001 trip to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Sweeney has sought guidance from the House Ethics Committee on how he should handle the reporting of his 2001 trip to the Pacific islands in the company of a lobbyist hired by convicted Washington influence peddler Jack Abramoff. Sweeney has said he traveled to the islands with “the understanding” that the trip was paid for by the CNMI government. “We’ve got to forgive our Republicans for Abramoff because they all have Abramoff amnesia,” Clinton said. “They don’t remember any of it.”

Clinton and Sweeney seem to have different memories as to the economy and the Federal budget for the past 15 years or so:

Clinton said the Bush administration and Congress turned a $240 billion surplus he left into a $250 billion deficit. He criticized the GOP as a party that focused on tax cuts for a few over helping the working class … “The deficit is actually a result of a recession that began in his administration,” he contended. “We are exponentially paying down the deficit in an accelerated time frame.” Sweeney noted the Dow industrial average has passed 12,000, home ownership is at record highs, unemployment at record lows and 6.6 million new jobs have been created since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “If the economy is the issue, we’re in good shape,” he said.

I guess Mr. Sweeney does not realize that the stock market today is still worth less in inflation-adjusted terms than it was in early 2000. And someone remind him that the recession started in early 2001. But he contradicts himself with the premise that the economy is currently in great shape as he also tries to blame a weak economy for the current deficit.

But let’s also compare real GDP and employment growth during Clinton’s 8 years versus Bush’s first 5.75 years. During Clinton’s years, real GDP grew by 32.7% or at a 3.6% per annum clip. Under Bush, the economy has grown by only 15.6%, which represents less than 2.6% per year.

As far as employment, it has not grown by 6.6 million since Bush took office. Try 3.1 million if we are using the payroll survey. Now under Clinton, employment grew by 23 million. I guess Congressman Sweeney doesn’t remember anything about the 1990’s.