Must-have PPTs: GOP witness details harsh impact Bush-Cheney policies had on U.S. manufacturing jobs

Cicio big 1

The US manufacturing sector has lost over 5.1 million jobs in the last 10 years. Output and investment per GDP has fallen consistently and imports have risen sharply. (See charts below) This is not the time to implement risky unproven climate policy. The US economy cannot afford to lose any more jobs or shutdown facilities. Approximately 40,000 manufacturing plants have closed during the seven years ending in 2008. We have lost eleven industries that we were once dominant since the late 1990s. By late 2008, the US trade deficit with China alone was running at close to $1 billion per day, amounting to more than $90 per month or more than $1100 per year for every American.

That’s from one of the strangest pieces of testimony you’re ever going to see — by Paul Cicio, Executive Director, Industrial Energy Consumers of America.

Cicio was the GOP witness at the landmark hearings for the Senate climate and clean energy jobs bill  today.  He seemed to think that a strong argument against the clean energy bill was that the U.S. manufacturing sector has been devastated by eight years of conservative rule.  I have argued many times that conservative do-nothing energy and economic policies led to sharp increases in energy costs (see “Senate GOP propose 25% ‘Do-Nothing’ energy tax on Americans“) and sharp decreases in US competitiveness (see “Invented here, sold there”).

But Cicio has the most (unintentionally) damning set of slides I’ve ever seen, a few of which I’m going to reproduce here since I’m sure progressives will want to use them in explaining why we must never go back to the Bush-Cheney policies.  The figure above shows how conservative policies have killed manufacturing jobs.   And lest you think that it is purely a coincidence that the manufacturing sector has been slammed by Bush-Cheney, Cicio provides this jaw-dropping figure which goes back another decade:


Invesment in industrial equipment recovered under the Clinton administration and stayed high for most of it, but simply collapsed under the Bush-Cheney administration and stayed low.  Looks like those tax cuts for the rich didn’t do very much other than enrich the rich.  The data in green is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, but that amusing “trend line” is apparently from the Industrial Energy Consumers of America.

Here’s one more figure:

Cicio Last

Yes, imports of manufactured goods soared, especially after 2003.  Again, thank you Bush-Cheney and a conservative Congress.

Sen. Boxer herself turned Cicio’s argument on its head and said that she agreed completely with his historical analysis, but disagreed completely with his conclusion.  The answer was not to continue these devastating do-nothing conservative policies, but to pass the clean energy jobs bill.

17 Responses to Must-have PPTs: GOP witness details harsh impact Bush-Cheney policies had on U.S. manufacturing jobs

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Good for Senator Boxer!

  2. Alex Emelianov says:

    My solar panels are made by Sanyo, Japan. My neighbor’s hybrid car is made in Japan. Who’s got green jobs?

    Thanks for your excellent analysis.

  3. BBHY says:

    Wow! What else can you say but Wow-O-Wow, that is one huge mega-slam on conservative economic policies!

  4. Greg says:

    @Alex Emelianov:

    The world is shifting to “green tech”. The race started at least 25 years ago, but the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations decided that the US could let everyone else have a head start of a few decades. That’s why today’s solar panels and hybrid cars aren’t made in the USA.

    It won’t always be that way, unless _you_ want it to be that way.

    Green technology is where the jobs are. Tell your representatives.

  5. Phil Eisner says:

    This information has been known and has been available for a long time. Paul Krugman has written op-eds about it in the NY Times from time to time – so have the Times business page writers. Anyone who has thought about the common manufactured articles that we buy such as all electronic equipment (TV, radio, audio, cameras, computers, wireless phones, etc) half or more of our automobile’s parts and subsystems, batteries, electromagnets, memory chips, military electronics, shoes, clothing, toys— I could go on and on– realizes these are almost all made abroad. We can hardly make large rockets anymore, or nuclear reactors, or reactor fuel. Solar panels and wind turbines are also mostly made abroad. We are not training enough American scientists and engineers (we have to import at least half) anymore and virtually everyone knows that but just shrugs it off. The big question is, What do we do about it?

  6. Stan says:

    If you want to pin this decline on Bush Cheney policies, you need to look at manufacturing employment data for a much longer period, one that encompasses previous administrations.

    At the end of WWII, manufacturing accounted for about 35% of non-farm employment. Today, it is 10%. Over that time period (1945-now), manufacturing’s share of the labor market has dropped at a pretty steady rate. It has dropped during during liberal/democratic administrations, and it has dropped during conservative/republican administrations. (See here for the data: )

    Given that rather constant rate of decline over that long time period, I have a hard time accepting your conclusion that the decline during 1998-2006 was unique, and the fault of conservative policies. It seems more appropriate to conclude that both parties have been totally ineffective at stemming the loss of manufacturing jobs.

  7. Dan B says:


    Your data is excellent, when considered out of context: What percentage of America’s economy is based upon economic security, infrastructure that generates jobs that support communities and families, and, as the Nepalese have found essential, what supports happiness?

    The religious and spiritual question is: What lifts our spirits and transforms our souls?

    When economics and statistics grows up it will address these questions with no fear. Until then people who ask: What is a successful counter to catastrophic climate disruption? Will hold the moral high ground. People who are able to overcome their fears of the end of cheap energy will prevail.

    Increasing or decreasing industrial employment under Republican or Democratic rule (Clinton governed with a Republican dominated Congress – How do you define that era?) has no meaning, especially when the survival of human civilization is uncertain.

    When the Pentagon can no longer get prototypes of advanced systems manufactured in the United States what’s the point of arguing?


  8. Even with the Republican Congress, Clinton cannot escape some substantive measure of responsibility for his policies. As a president he was far more “moderate” than one might judge from his genuinely admirable work as an EX-president.

    First of all, in terms of economic policies, conservatives have been absolutely dominant for the past 40 years. There was that 4 year blip when Carter was in the big-chair, but that was as much government by befuddlement as anything that might be construed as calcualted policy. Otherwise, we’ve got:

    Carter? (’cause he really changed everything …)
    Reagan … twice for God’s sake!
    Clinton (whose economic policies were driven by conservative, market fundamentalist ideology)
    Shrub (a little bush) … twice for God’s sake!

    And now Obama, who is in reality a Rockefeller Republican.

    Secondly, there is obviously more than one factor at play in any economic development. SOME of the trending away from manufacturing jobs can certainly be attributed to these other factors, which clearly cross administrative lines. But to lump all such trends into a single analysis as Stan has done above is certainly a specious analogy Perhaps with a more careful separation and analysis of factors Stan’s comparison would still stand. But such an analysis has yet to be offered.

    What strikes me is the analogy between the speciousness of comparing climatological trends in the immediate postwar era to the current ones, without taking the time to also note the significant changes in land use and aerosol contents in the atmosphere. Deniers will point to these gross trends and say, “Oh look, during this time global temps were going down!” w/o attempting to incorporate the differences between then and now. But there was not a single, simplistic (sp? insomnia …) trend involved with either climate or the economy, then or now; yet such a trend is exactly what is presupposed by any such chart as Stan offers. (This argument can obviously be stood on its head at least somewhat: Joe’s analysis does not include such detail as would adequately separate the varying factors involved.)

    It is not enough — and I would argue, obviously not enough — to compare the trends in manufacturing jobs in this country ONLY to those trends IN this country from one time frame to another. Rather, we must also ask, how do our trends compare to OTHER industrialized nations that do not share our aggressively — and I would argue, viciously — narrow views of economics? Then, and only then, will you have the possibility of a meaningful and useful baseline for such an analogy.

  9. Ron Broberg says:


    Thanks, cool link.

  10. john says:


    Carville, of all people, in his book, “Had Enough” tracked deficits, manufacturing jobs, income disparity GDP and other indicators by administration, going back ot WWII. With the exception of Ike, Republican Presidents did far worse across the board.

    And yes, Carville is partisan, but his facts were not — they came straight from US data bases in Labor, Commerce, and EIA.

    I suppose you can draw a “trend line” as the IECA laughably did for the shorter period above, but it don’t change the facts: Conservative Republican policies have failed. Period. And not just once, but over and over again.

  11. As an economy matures, there is a loss first of agricultural jobs and then of manufacturing jobs – because productivity increases rapidly in agriculture and manufacturing, so fewer workers can produce the products consumers demand, and consumers tend to spend more of their income on services as they become more affluent.

    This doesn’t excuse the loss of manufacturing jobs to imports. This shows that our economy is not as competitive as it should be.

    This does show that the long-term trend toward lost manufacturing jobs that Stan points is natural in a mature economy. The loss of manufacturing jobs during the 1950s was not the result of the American economy being uncompetitive. We imported relatively few manufactured goods back then, and jobs were lost because of higher productivity in manufacturing.

    To analyze the competitiveness of the American economy, we should look at imports/exports of manufactured goods over time, not at employment in manufacturing over time.

    You might as well say that American agriculture is inefficient because employment in agriculture has dropped dramatically since the nineteenth century.

  12. andrew adams says:

    I’m waiting for the first AGW denier to explain how the graph you posted shows that employment is increasing.

  13. GFW says:

    Charles has it right – the transition from agriculture to manufacturing and then manufacturing to services is a sign of progress. Better indicators of economic health are overall employment, GDP, national debt, Gini (inequality) coefficient, etc. And as John points out, those numbers tend to favor Democrats. (I’m shocked, shocked, that the party that believes in social investment produces better results in an economy where the most important assets are people and their knowledge rather than buildings and machines.)

    Check out some of Krugman’s books if you’d rather read about this topic from a Nobel-winning economist than from a political consultant (Carville). Not that the conclusions will be much different.

  14. GFW says:

    PS: I would favor using a more holistic indicator like the “Legatum Prosperity Index”, which combines various measures of
    * Economic Fundamentals
    * Democratic Institutions
    * Health
    * Governance
    * Social Capital
    * Entrepreneurship and Innovation
    * Education
    * Safety and Security
    * Personal Freedom

    See or Wiki it. There are others, such as the Human Development Index.

  15. Paco says:

    A picture is worth 1000 words. These three pictures are easily worth 30,000 words. The world did not change during the Clinton administration. Everything fell apart once he left office.

  16. Sam Thomson says:

    Consider Clinton’s passing of NAFTA – that certainly couldn’t have helped.

  17. mparker says:

    Carter put solar panels on the White House and laws in place that would have made the US independent of foreign oil. Saint Ronnie reversed all of that and pulled those solar panels off as soon as he could. Doing the right thing or doing too little of it is not at all the same as doing the wrong things over and over again as Republicans like to do.