Moderate, Fake Economy
By Jackson Thoreau
months, we've been hearing from Bush that the economy is turning
around, that Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy are creating
jobs, that the recession was all the fault of Clinton and
then Sept. 11, 2001.
It's campaign 2004 time, time for Bush to act like a moderate.
It's time for Bush to feed us some more horse manure.
It's time for me to upchuck.
On Dec. 5, Bush's Labor Department reported that U.S. non-farm
payroll jobs increased by 57,000 in November, falling short
of expectations after an 8.2 percent annual growth rate in
the third quarter of this year. The job gains under Bush are
mostly in lower-paying service jobs - manufacturing jobs fell
for the 40th straight month in November.
Let's see, since Bush stole the White House, the U.S. economy
has lost close to 3 million jobs. The only increases have
come in recent months, suspiciously as Bush cranks up his
campaign. At this pace, the U.S. will reach zero job losses
by 2008. Add to that the highest budget deficits in U.S. history,
the most layoffs in at least 20 years, and a market in which
almost 3 million more Americans lost their health insurance
just last year. That's quite an economic record to hang your
hat on, huh?
So what did Bush say at a fund-raiser in Baltimore, a short
drive from my new crib (and I mean crib literally - I have
two fun kids tugging on me as I try to write this, age 1 and
"The American economy is strong, and it is getting stronger,"
Bush lied at the $1 million fund-raiser for his 2004 re-election
campaign. "More jobs are being created."
Whose economy is getting stronger? Maybe the economy of
the wealthy elite who funds Bush campaign stops is getting
stronger. But mine is sure not. And no one I know feels more
economically secure than he or she did under Clinton.
Ask U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the Congressional
Black Caucus, what he thinks about Friday's job report, and
you'll get closer to the real story: "The job report also
indicates that while the African-American unemployment rate
fell to 10.2 percent, the Hispanic unemployment rate rose
to 7.4 percent. Both of these numbers are again significantly
higher than the national average," Cummings said. "While it
is welcome news that some Americans are finding work, these
new numbers are disappointing when one considers the record
growth in the gross domestic product recently announced by
the U.S. Department of Commerce.
"In addition, when we consider that over 2 million Americans
have been unemployed for more than six months, that about
3 million Americans have lost their jobs since January 2001,
and close to 9 million Americans will wake up tomorrow morning
without a job, now is not the time to celebrate or pat ourselves
on the back.
"For those Americans without jobs, the term 'jobless recovery'
is a cruel joke. These troubling long-term unemployment numbers
are also a strong indication as to why the Republicans in
Congress should extend unemployment benefits before we adjourn
for the year. These benefits are set to expire on Dec. 21,
and we should not leave Washington without extending them.
We owe it to the American people."
So what does Bush do? He celebrates. He pats himself on
the back. He accepts more political bribes from his rich cronies,
who get paid back in tax cuts, no-bid contracts, intimidated
workers who take less pay and benefits, and similar ways.
What a cruel joke Bush is.
Bush can't even get a clue when the company in which he
began his bullshit economic growth campaign in April 2003,
the Timken Company, an Ohio-based steel and bearings manufacturer,
embarrassed him a few months later by announcing it would
cut 900 jobs. The very same company he showcased as an example
of his growth plan cut jobs. Some growth, huh? Then
again, that trend fits nicely under Bush.
You want some more numbers from the Labor Department? Look
at layoffs, a statistic that is rarely reported these days
by the mainstream media. Some 1.6 million more employees were
given pink slips in the first ten months of 2003, not far
off the 1.7 million in the same period of 2002 and the 1.9
million during the same ten months in 2001, when we saw more
layoffs than any year in at least 20 years. About half those
laid off did not find jobs before exhausting government unemployment
benefits - the highest level ever recorded.
Most companies making these huge layoffs continue to rake
in hefty profits. For example, New York-based financial firm
Citigroup Inc. announced it would slash 7,800 jobs in November
2001, then went on to record a whopping $14.1 billion in profit
in 2001 and another $15.3 billion in 2002. That came on top
of making $13.5 billion in 2000 and $9.9 billion in 1999.
Why did Citigroup need to cut almost 8,000 employees when
it made so much and paid its chief executive, Sanford Weill,
an obscene $225 million in 2000?
So what's really going on here? I remain convinced that
there was at least a subconscious campaign by executives,
who were complaining about not having enough qualified employees
throughout much of the 1990s, to reduce job security, wages,
and benefits through increased layoffs. In effect, corporate
bigwigs got tired of employees leaving for greener pastures
and took it on themselves to turn the employees' job market
of much of the last decade back into an employers' market.
As you might guess, this layoff conspiracy leads directly
to the White House - some Democrats have played a role, but
it's mostly Republicans who are siding with the corporate
layoff conspirators. Remember what Bush and Cheney did in
December 2000 as soon as they had stolen the presidency? Cheney,
a former corporate bigwig himself, went on major television
programs and talked about how bad the economy was, blaming
it on Clinton, when most real economists agreed it was not
that bad - yet. Bush, a failed corporate smallwig who could
only make money through a questionable stock transaction with
Harken Energy and as part owner of the Texas Rangers baseball
team by convincing taxpayers to fund most of a new stadium,
talked the economy down in his own way in front of crowds
of supporters and in one-on-one meetings with reporters. Bush's
handlers wouldn't let him go on TV and actually answer a question
more complex than "How's your golf game?" Their aim was to
blame the impending recession on the Clinton administration,
something the lying liars continue to do to this day. That's
despite the fact that the economy was still growing
at the end of 2000, though it had slowed from its torrid pace
during most of Clinton's years.
Another lie Bush often tells is that he appreciates workers
and helps them get ahead. According to the U.S. House Appropriations
Committee, Bush's 2003 budget proposed a 9 percent, or $476
million, cut to job training programs and a 2 percent, or
$8 million, cut to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Similarly, his 2004 budget proposed a $60 million cut to adult
job training programs and a total elimination of the Youth
Opportunities Grants, which provided job training for younger
The real goal of Bush is to pay back his huge campaign contributors,
many of whom were these same corporate executives who complained
before about not having enough qualified employees, by aiding
the return of an employers' market.
Company executives and their apologists try to tell us they
"need" to lay off workers - even when the firm is making boatloads
of money - to remain competitive in today's market, despite
there being alternatives like reducing employee hours or executives'
salaries. That bull just doesn't float. In the increasingly
merger-friendly environment, competition for many large megacorporations
is not much of an issue. The main issue for many shareholders
is to acquire as much capital and return on investment as
possible. That's the bottom line.
For these multimillionaires and billionaires, money is only
a way to keep score, not a basic necessity that could mean
the difference between eating and not eating. And they only
feel good when that score goes up, even if it is at the expense
of a person making $20,000 or $30,000 a year.
It really makes me mad that Bush tries to say his tax cuts
are helping the economy. It makes little sense if you want
to help the economy to give more money to wealthy people who
already know how to make their riches grow. They will be fine
without tax cuts - when was the last time you saw a homeless
wealthy person? If you give them more money, they will most
likely hoard it and won't circulate it back into the economy
like those at the lower end will. Tax cuts for the lower and
middle classes make more sense to spur the economy, if you
want to use tax cuts. Tax cuts to the wealthy failed to create
jobs under Reagan and Bush Sr., a 12-year period that saw
a job loss.
Bush Jr.'s tax cuts for the wealthy resulted in substantial
slashes of federal assistance to state and local governments,
some of which experienced their biggest budget deficits since
World War II under Bush. So state and local officials raised
taxes - which disproportionately hit the middle class and
lower income people - and cut services, mostly healthcare
and social services to the needy.
And this is a stupid economy that is getting better? How
stupid does Bush and Co. think Americans are? Meanwhile, thanks
mostly to the tax cuts for the super rich, the Bush Jr. administration
gave us the largest federal budget deficits in U.S. history
- $374.2 billion in 2003. And who held that record previously?
Bush Sr., who saw a $290.4 billion deficit in 1992. You think
that's just coincidence?
Joshua Bolten, head of the federal Office of Management
and Budget, predicted that the deficit for 2004 would rise
even higher, topping $500 billion.
This is a freaking economy that is getting stronger?
Even conservative financial officials know better. "The strong
economic growth we're seeing is not accompanied by any respectable
employment growth," Anthony Karydakis, senior financial economist
at Banc One Capital Markets, told Reuters.
So who the hell is getting this money coming out of this
"strong economic growth?" Not me. And I doubt you are.
It's the same ones Bush and his ilk always help benefit
- that elite 1 percent at the top of the human food chain.
Bush-Rove-Cheney are taking the same page from the same
story they did in 2000. Bush is trying to pose as a moderate
to steal another presidential election. He is lying about
his record, just as he lied about what he did as Texas governor.
That's why Bush wanted the $400 billion Medicare prescription
drugs bill, which many analysts say will end up costing many
seniors more and being just a big boondoggle for pharmaceutical
companies and HMOs, some more of Bush's friendly bribery partners.
Bush doesn't really care about seniors. He just wants to have
something to try to convince them to vote for him.
That's what these lies about the economy are about.
It's all about stealing another election.
Excuse me while I upchuck some more....
Jackson Thoreau is an American writer and co-author of
We Will Not Get Over It: Restoring a Legitimate White
House. The updated, 120,000-word electronic book can be
downloaded on his Internet
site. Citizens for Legitimate Government has the earlier
version. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.