From "Front Edge of a Recession" To "Storm Clouds"
By Bill Scher
December 17, 2007 - 9:00pm ET
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The Bush Administration came into office seven years ago talking down the economy -- saying we're on the "front edge of a recession" in hopes of setting a low bar of expectations for themselves to clear.
But the bar just kept dropping.
Seven years later, when President Bush scheduled a speech designed to talk up the economy as he gets ready to walk out the door, he can't avoid conceding the mess he will leave to his successor.
In his prepared remarks today, Bush said with a straight face, "If you think about where we were coming out of 2001 and where we are today, you can't help but say the plan worked. Cutting taxes helped stimulate economic growth."
But after his prepared remarks, Bush actually took some questions from his Rotary Club audience. And the second one, from a commercial lender, punctured the Bush bubble:
What about my big customers that are driving diesel-powered equipment? ... fuel goes to $3.25 a gallon to $5.00, while at the same time that you're having an escalated health care expenses ... revenues aren't necessarily expanding in this soft economy that we're in. So what happens in '08 and '09 when the --
Bush then cut him off and tried to reassure. But, perhaps surprised by the unexpected dose of reality from the business crown, he didn't quite pull it off.
...this economy is pretty good. There are some -- there's definitely some storm clouds and concerns. But the underpinning is good, and we'll work our way through this period.
The best he could do was lean on the David Brooks argument that the "underpinning is good."
But Americans has been dissatisfied with the economy for the entirety of the Bush Era. Gallup has polled Americans about the economy at least once a month during the past seven years, and only once have a majority of Americans called the economy "good" or "excellent."
And that number currently stands at 28%.
The Bush Era will always be known as a time where the economy failed to work for everyone -- widening the income gap; raising health care and energy costs; increasing poverty and squeezing the middle-class.
The underpinnings have felt shaky for a long time.
Which is why Bush's feeble attempts at shoring up his economic legacy, like his policies, are bound to fail.
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