Were the GDP Books Cooked During the 2000 Election Season?

Republicans for years now have claimed that the once-lagging economy was not the fault of George W. Bush, but that, in fact, he inherited an already slow-to-negative economy from the Clinton Administration.

Almost a year and a half ago, August 9, 2002, Robert Novak wrote a column called “Clinton-Cooked Books?” In it he noted that a Commerce Department report on the national economy revealed that the Clinton White House lauded the economy as doing much better than it actually was during the 2000 election year.

In the column, Novak wrote:

    “. . .Hidden in the morass of statistics, there is proof that the Clinton administration grossly overestimated the strength of the economy leading up to the 2000 election. Did the federal government join Enron and WorldCom in cooking the books?

    “Through all of President Clinton’s last two years in office, the announced level of before-tax profits was at least 10 percent too high — a discrepancy rising close to 30 percent during the last presidential campaign. Most startling, the Commerce Department in 2000 showed the economy on an upswing through most of the election year while in fact it was declining. [???]

    “The result: headlines in 2000 spewing false information of corporate profits growing at 25 percent, bolstering the stock market and holding up the state of the economy as the election approached. That is the underpinning for the Democratic myth that a growing and vibrant American economy has been sabotaged by President Bush’s tax cut (‘We lost the opportunity for long-term economic growth,’ says House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt).”

Of course, Democrats decried such a notion as ludicrous: there’s no way that the Clinton White House could have made such an error, besides, Bill Clinton was the source of the good economy. The Left has long claimed that there was no economic shrinkage during Bubba’s tenure.

Well, check out some of that the Associated Press reported yesterday:

    “The longest economic expansion in U.S. history faltered so much in the summer of 2000 that business output actually contracted for one quarter, the government said Wednesday in releasing a comprehensive revision of the gross domestic product.

    “Based on new data, the Commerce Department said that the GDP – the country’s total output of goods and services – shrank by 0.5 percent at an annual rate in the July-September quarter of 2000. Previously, the government had said GDP was rising at a weak annual rate of 0.6 percent during that quarter. [???]

    “Even before the revisions, the GDP data showed that the economy, which had been surging ahead, hit a brick wall in the summer of 2000 with growth slowing sharply, partly as a result of the bursting of the stock market bubble in early 2000.”

So, when will the Democrats finally own up to the fact that the economy began its decline under their guy?

Never, you say?

Well, you’re probably right.


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