As the economy spirals downward into what many economists view is already a recession, President Bush delivered a speech this week expressing confidence “in the ability of the markets” to turn it around.
In 1930, as the U.S economy was sinking into deep recession, President Herbert Hoover said this to Congress:
Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body – the producers and consumers themselves.
In his speech this week, Bush echoed Hoover: “The temptation of Washington is to say that anything short of a massive government intervention in the housing market amounts to inaction. I strongly disagree with that sentiment. … Government actions are — have far-reaching and unintended consequences.”
The unfortunate similarities in these statements and attitudes led Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to offer this observation on Fox News this morning:
The President is indeed behaving like Herbert Hoover. We’re in the most serious economic problem we’ve been in in a very long time — much worse than 2001. The President’s hands-off attitude is reminiscent of Herbert Hoover in 1929 and 1930.
Schumer added that this has become “the Bush recession,” while Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) noted that this will be the second recession in this administration. Watch it:
In an editorial this morning, the New York Times fact-checks Bush’s economic speech:
Mr. Bush boasted about 52 consecutive months of job growth during his presidency. What matters is the magnitude of growth, not ticks on a calendar. The economic expansion under Mr. Bush — which it is safe to assume is now over — produced job growth of 4.2 percent. That is the worst performance over a business cycle since the government started keeping track in 1945. [...]
Mr. Bush was wrong to say wages are rising. On Friday morning, the day he spoke, the government reported that wages failed to outpace inflation in February, for the fifth straight month. Productivity growth has also weakened markedly in the past two years, a harbinger of a lower overall standard of living for Americans.
Bush’s “denial of the economic truth” means that “Americans are ill-prepared for hard times” ahead.