During a lengthy speech on the Senate floor yesterday about his opposition to the confirmation of Elana Kagan to the Supreme Court, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) went on a tangent, claiming the ongoing economic downturn “was not Bush’s recession” but was a “result of Democrat economic polices”:
DEMINT: The decision that have been made about our economy over the last couple of years have brought our economy to its knees. This is no longer something we can blame on President Bush. In fact, the Democrats have been in control of policy making, economic policy spending, for four years now. This is not Bush’s recession. This is the result of Democrat economic polices. This nomination will continue our move in the wrong direction.
Even the staunchly conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board understood it was Bush’s recession, writing in early 2009 that Bush’s comment that “Wall Street got drunk and we got a hangover,” “reveals how little the President comprehends about the source of his Administration’s economic undoing. To extend his metaphor, Who does Mr. Bush think was serving the liquor?” Even if one ignores everything after 2006, Bush still had the worst record of job creation in 40 years.
Moreover, the economy only began to recover after President Obama and the Democratic Congress passed the stimulus package in early 2009. Since then, the GDP has grown, the financial sector has recovered, and — while the overall employment situation is still bleak — private sector job growth has rebounded:
In a recent report, two leading economists “empirically proved” that the Obama’s stimulus package and other interventionist measures “helped avert a second Depression.” Without the stimulus package, GDP would have been 2 percent lower and an additional 2.7 million jobs would have been lost, they found. Meanwhile, “On every major measurement” of economic growth, “the country lost ground during Bush’s two terms,” the National Journal’s Ron Brownstein observed, citing Census data.
It’s odd that DeMint — a tea party leader who has tried to distance himself from Bush — would defend the former president. Bush’s economic record is clear — “the worst track record for job creation” of any modern president, anemic income growth, and increased poverty — but as Republicans attempt to repackage Bush’s failed economic policies as something new, perhaps it’s not surprising that DeMint is trying to resurrect Bush’s legacy.