Economic experts ranging from the World Bank’s top economist to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan have said that the current recession, which began in Dec. 2007, is on course to be the worst since the Great Depression. But some conservative ideologues, like former Cheney adviser Mary Matalin, disagree.
Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show last night, Matalin said that she had “the perspective we’ve been through worse.” Matalin first claimed that Ronald Reagan’s 1981–82 recession was worse and then added that “arguably” the 2001 recession was worse as well:
MATALIN: I don’t want to say I’m panic-free, because my husband’s always in a panic, which is infectious, but I do have the perspective we’ve been through worse. Reagan had a worse recession, and arguably George W. Bush, I was there in that pre-9/11. We inherited a recession. We acted quickly, and the recession, in combination with 9/11, was shallow and short, and we went on to have 52 months of consecutive growth. I’m not doing talking points here.
Needless to say, Matalin’s claim about the 2001 recession is laughable. As Time’s Justin Fox recently pointed out, February’s job loss numbers mean that the employment decline of the current recession is now worse than in the 1981–82 recession:
Additionally, Matalin claims that she isn’t spouting “talking points” when she says that Bush’s 2001 tax cuts led to “52 months of consecutive growth.” But that is exactly what the Bush talking points are. As the Center for American Progress’ Joshua Picker has pointed out, overall monthly job growth during the economic cycle that began in March 2001 and ended in December of 2007 was “the worst of any cycle since at least February 1945.”