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Monday, September 06, 2004

Up Up Up

The fun continues. November 2: Election Day 2004 analyzes the latest (mis)statements of George W. Bush--these taken from a Sept. 5 rally in West Virginia.

Finding counter-information to juxtapose against Bush's claims of ever-expanding dreams did not take long...

George W. Bush: America added 144,000 new jobs last month. Plus 60,000 jobs upward revision for the previous two months, we've added over 1.7 million new jobs since August of '03. The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. (Applause.) And the unemployment rate in the great state of West Virginia is 5.2 percent. (Applause.) Our economic plan is working. (Applause.)

Bob Herbert replies: "The number was below market forecasts. It was also below the number of jobs needed to accommodate the growth in the employment-aged population. In short, this was not good news. It's only by the diminished job-creation standards that have prevailed since the last recession that any positive spin could be put on last month's performance.

As the Economic Policy Institute tells us, in a book-length report it is releasing today: 'The United States has been tracking employment statistics since 1939, and never in history has it taken this long to regain the jobs lost over a downturn.'"

Herbert continues: "From 2000 through 2003 the median household income fell by $1,500 (in 2003 dollars) - a significant 3.4 percent decrease. That information becomes startling when you consider that during the same period there was a strong 12 percent increase in productivity among U.S. workers."

George W. Bush: I'll tell you what else we've got to fix is the tax code. It is a complicated mess. It's full of special interest loopholes. Americans spend about six billion hours of paperwork and headache every year on the tax code.

Andrew Sullivan, a conservative commentator, replies in an article for Esquire: "The Presidency of George W. Bush--billed as a force for moderation and 'compassionate conservatism'--ended up extremist, harsh, and anything but conservative. He could have cut tax rates across the board and removed tax loopholes for wealthy corporations. Instead, he cut taxes substantively only for the very rich, clotted the tax code with even more corporate tax giveaways, and ended the one tax that penalized inherited rather than earned wealth, the estate tax."

On his blogsite, www.andrewsullivan.com, Sullivan writes: "I've said it before and I'll say it again: the only difference between Republicans and Democrats now is that the Bush Republicans believe in Big Insolvent Government and the Kerry Democrats believe in Big Solvent Government. By any measure, that makes Kerry - especially as he has endorsed the critical pay-as-you-go rule on domestic spending - easily the choice for fiscal conservatives. It was also jaw-dropping to hear this president speak about tax reform. Bush? He has done more to lard up the tax code with special breaks and new loopholes than any recent president. On this issue - on which I couldn't agree more - I have to say I don't believe him. Tax reform goes against the grain of everything this president has done so far. Why would he change now? "

George W. Bush: Do you realize home ownership is at an all-time high in America? There's nothing better than more American citizens opening the door to the place where they live and saying, welcome to my home, welcome to my piece of property. (Applause.)

The record high rate of home ownership, generated largely by the record low interest rates of the last few years, is of course a positive development. But there is reason for concern, especially as interest rates begin to rise and wages remain stagnant.

Genaro Armas of the Associated Press writes (in an article published last May): "Home-ownership rates for low- and moderate-income working families with children have declined since the late 1970s, even though the overall U.S. home-ownership rate has risen, according to a study released yesterday by an affordable-housing coalition.

The fresh analysis of previous government data suggests, in part, that incomes for these working families haven't kept pace with soaring housing prices, highlighting a need for government to promote construction of more affordable housing, the Center for Housing Policy says."

A University of Washington researcher conducted a study of low-income Seattle residents and came to the following conclusions: "The American dream of buying and owning a home all too frequently doesn't have a happy ending for many low-income families. Despite federal government policies encouraging home ownership among minority and low-income families, more than half of them left their houses and returned to renting within five years, according to a new study by a University of Washington researcher. One third of the families returned to renting in the first two years.

'Home ownership is not a cure-all for low income families without a living-wage job and wage progression. Without those two things, it is not sustainable,' said Carolina Katz Reid, who did the research for her doctoral dissertation in geography, which she just completed.

'The evidence suggests that low-income families are particularly vulnerable to losing their homes because they are more likely to lose their jobs and they have few resources to fall back on. Mortgage payments for many of these families take 50 percent or more of their monthly income. An unexpected drop in income or increase in expenses can make it impossible for them to meet those payments.'"

For a refutation RNC soundbites, see the blog entry below.


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