Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Frightening Bush Legacy


Although the Bush administration has now come to an end, the Bush legacy will live on. After eight years of ineptitude and mismanagement, the bill for this country’s colossal $10.35 trillion Bush hangover largely will be paid by future generations. Here’s the dismal Bush fiscal record in a nutshell:

National debt at start of Bush’s first term: $5.7 trillion

At end of Bush’s second term: $10.35 trillion (+45%)

Congress voted in October of 2008 to raise the debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion, the seventh rise since President Bush took office in 2001. This increase may not be enough to handle the bailouts and the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Accountability for the money disbursed has been lax. And, depending on whether or not the riskiest loans are factored in, the total national debt may actually have risen to anywhere between $12 and $15 trillion.

Net interest on debt is the fourth largest spending category in the federal budget. The national debt is now equivalent to more than 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product—the highest such percentage in five decades. The portion of the national debt owed to China, Japan and countries in the Middle East has risen from 31 percent in 2000 to 46 percent in 2008. To put this in perspective, every person—that is to say, every man, woman and child—in the U.S. today owes $9,000 to some other country.

Household debt at start of Bush’s first term: about $8 trillion
At end of Bush’s second term: more than $14 trillion (+43%)

Household debt includes credit card debt, automobile loan payments, mortgages and other forms of personal finance. One of every five American homeowners today owes more in mortgage payments than their homes are actually worth. Foreclosures are expected to rise to more than 5,000 per day. Poverty increased during the eight years Bush was in power. In 2008, 37 million Americans were living below the federal poverty level, a number equivalent to the population of California. This is an embarrassing statistic for the world's richest country. Twenty-one countries of the world, including Germany, China, Ireland, France and Austria, have lower poverty rates than our 12 percent. Taiwan has less than 1 percent of its population living in poverty.

Unemployment rate at start of Bush’s first term: 4.2 percent
At end of Bush’s second term: 7.2 percent (+42%)

Despite enormous and profligate government spending, most Americans are worse off than they were when President Bush took office in January 2001. Four million manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the U.S. during the eight years of the Bush administration. Unemployment has almost doubled and is rising monthly. Millions have exhausted their unemployment benefits or have stopped looking for work. Five million Americans have no health insurance of any kind. Yet George W. Bush’s policies rewarded the wealthiest 10 percent of the nation with income growth of almost 100 percent, while the middle class saw its income shrink.

Budget surplus at start of Bush’s first term: $128 billion
Budget deficit at end of Bush second term: $1.2 trillion

George W. Bush took the surplus handed to him by the Clinton administration and squandered it on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He gave ill-advised tax cuts to wealthy individuals and windfalls to corporations that lowered revenues by $1 trillion. As a result of witless deficit spending without accountability, he left office having amassed more debt than all previous presidents combined. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that if Clinton-era policies had been retained over the last eight years, the national debt would have declined significantly.

Annual cost of Afghan war in 2001: $20 billion
Annual cost of Afghan and Iraq wars in 2009: $208 billion

For every member of the armed forces killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, 15 more have been wounded or injured seriously enough to require evacuation to a medical facility. More than 350,000 veterans of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have sought treatment from the VA. Nearly 300,000 have filed applications for disability benefits. The cost of providing medical care and benefits may eventually exceed the cost of combat operations.

Here are a few other alarming nuggets of information about the excesses of the past eight years:

Percentage by which benefits would have declined if Bush’s Social Security privatization scheme had been approved: -15

Portion of time during his presidency George W. Bush has spent at or traveling to vacation spots: 1/3

Number of laws that George W. Bush’s signing statements exempted his administration from obeying: 1,069

Number of vehicles making up the motorcade that transported Bush to his bike-riding site in Maryland: Six

Estimated distance ridden by George W. Bush on his bicycle during his presidency: 5,400 miles

Number of American veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars who have been denied health care since 2003: 452,677

Average annual number of additions to the endangered species list made under Clinton: 65
Average annual number under Bush: 8

Value of U.S. Government contracts awarded without competitive bidding in 2000: $73 billion
Value of those awarded in 2007: $146 billion

Rank of George W. Bush among presidents with high disapproval ratings: 1


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