Thursday, November 18, 2004

With the opening of the Clinton Library today, American Progress thought it would be an opportune time to contrast Clinton vs. GW:
Here is a look at life in the 1990s, compared to how things are today.
POVERTY: During the Clinton years, poverty fell by 25.2 percent. Poverty climbed steadily under President Bush, however. According to the most recent data from the Census Bureau, the number of Americans living in poverty has "risen ten percent since 2000." That means "nearly 36 million Americans – one in eight – now live in poverty and tens of millions are considered working poor."

WAGES: Wage growth has fallen dramatically over the past four years. In 2000, median weekly wages grew by 4.9 percent. This fell to a mere 2.0 percent in 2003, meaning that adjusted for inflation, "wages fell slightly in real terms in 2003 for the first time since 1996." For those who have found work, the recovery is of questionable value in an "upside down" economy where profits have soared yet families' benefits are nullified by the rapidly rising costs of housing, education, and medical care – all of which jumped at double digit rates.

UNEMPLOYMENT: There are more people unable to find work than four years ago. In 2000, the unemployment rate was 4 percent. During his terms, President Clinton created 22.7 million jobs. Putting that in historical perspective, that's "the most created under any single president since the 1920s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics." Under President Bush, 490,000 jobs disappeared, making him the first president since Herbert Hoover to have fewer available jobs at the end of his term than at the beginning.

DEFICITS: Under President Clinton, the U.S. government had "its first budget surpluses since 1969, and its largest surpluses on record." Not only was there a total budget surplus of $176 billion, the Clinton Treasury "actually paid off $362.5 billion of debt held by the public." President Bush reversed this trend, racking up a record $422 billion deficit. Instead of paying down the debt, the Bush Treasury has needed three debt ceiling increases over the past four years and is calling this week for a fourth. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, there's no end in sight; if President Bush succeeds in passing his 2005 budget – with the extension of his tax cuts – there will be $6.2 trillion in additional debt between now and 2014, nearly doubling our current debt ($7.38 trillion) for a total of $14.5 trillion.

ABORTION: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the Clinton years, the abortion rate fell by about 27 percent. A new independent study by an ethics professor at Fuller Theological Seminary finds that today, "contrary to popular assumption, abortion has risen in the U.S. during George W. Bush's presidency."

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