Documenting the Bush Legacy of Failure

The Bush Stock Market Collapse

Posted on | October 8, 2012 | 7 Comments

Here’s a BushToll nugget that pretty much speaks for itself. When George W. Bush took office on Jan. 20, 2001, the S&P 500 stock market index stood at $1,342.54. The day he left office, it was $805.22, a drop of 40 percent

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fared a bit better. It dropped only 25 percent. Sadly, the tech-heavy NASDAQ shed 48 percent of its value on President Bush’s watch.

As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words:

2001 - 2009: The Bush Stock Market Collapse

The Bush Stock Market Collapse

Source Data: Yahoo Finance, Historical Quotes

1/19/2001 1/20/2009 Decline
S&P 500 $1,342.54 $805.22 -40%
Dow Jones Industrial $10,587.59 $7,949.09 -25%
NASDAQ $2770.38 $1440.86 -48%


Just for contrast, here is a snapshot of the stock market from Jan. 20, 2009 to July 17, 2014 (*the date of the last update of this article):

Stock market Jan. 20, 2009 to July. 17, 2014

Stock market Jan. 20, 2009 to July 17, 2014

Since President Obama took office, the Nasdaq has increased by 203 percent, the S&P 500 by 143 percent, and the Dow Industrial Average by 114 percent.


On an historical note, in Sept. of 2012, Bloomberg News reported on the fact that the stock market, corporate earnings, and GDP do better under Democratic presidents than Republican presidents:


And here’s more in the exploding heads department:

UPDATED 12/23/2013 to refresh the stock market performance chart.

UPDATED 7/17/2014 to refresh the stock market performance chart.

The George W. Bush Job Creation Failure

Posted on | March 5, 2012 | 5 Comments

UPDATED 12/11/2014 with revised BLS data

When it comes to job creation, George W. Bush produced the worst results—less than a one percent increase over eight years—of any president since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started keeping records in 1939.

See the records for yourself on BLS Table B-1, and select “total non-farm” employment, seasonally adjusted.

This fact was noted by the Wall Street Journal in a Jan. 2009 blog article, “Bush On Jobs: The Worst Track Record On Record,” by the WSJ staff.

While the WSJ article is noteworthy, we take issue with its methodology for counting jobs, where the WSJ staff measures presidential terms from the end of the month before inauguration to the month before leaving office.

BushToll measures from the actual inauguration month to the month of departure, which better reflects a president’s influence on economic policy.

By our reading of the BLS data (non-farm, seasonally adjusted), total employment was 132,694,000 at the beginning of George W. Bush’s term and 133,976,000 at the end, an increase of 0.97 percent over eight years, or an average of 160,250 per year.

In contrast, jobs increased by 2,586,250 per year under Carter, 2,016,375 per year under Reagan, 659,250 per year under George H.W. Bush, 2,861,125 per year under Clinton, and most recently, 1,040,400 per year under Barack Obama, with 39 months of uninterrupted growth.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table B-1, Total Non-Farm Employment, Seasonally Adjusted through Nov. 2014.
“Bush On Jobs: The Worst Track Record On Record,” Wall Street Journal blog, Jan. 2009
BLS Jobs Report 1938-2014 as compiled by BushToll (PDF)

Bush Left Obama a $1.2 Trillion Deficit

Posted on | April 4, 2010 | 3 Comments

DeficitsWhen we hear the partisan whining and complaining that President Obama has exploded the Federal budget deficit, it’s important to understand the budget train wreck he inherited from the previous administration.

At the beginning of Jan. 2009, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its report The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2009 to 2019. In it, the CBO projected that the deficit for fiscal 2009 would total $1.2 trillion, or 8.3 percent of GDP. Note that Federal fiscal year 2009 was Oct. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2009.

The CBO also cautioned that its projection did not include the effects of future legislation such as the stimulus package. In fact, the CBO was prescient as the actual 2009 deficit turned out to be $1.4 trillion.

In brief, the projected deficit for 2009 was $1.2 trillion before Barack Obama set foot in office, and he in turn contributed an additional 14 percent ($200 billion) attributed by the CBO to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, i.e., the stimulus program.


The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2009 to 2019

The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2010 to 2020

Table of Revenues, Outlays, Deficits, Surpluses, and Debt Held by the Public, 1970 to 2009 (PDF)

h/t to Factcheck.org, “A Texas-Size Whopper”


Bush Grew Gross Federal Debt by 85.5 Percent

Bush Failed to Keep America Safe

Posted on | January 31, 2009 | 4 Comments

A visual comparison of U.S. casualties over a period of 16 years.

A visual comparison of U.S. casualties at the hands of foreign terrorists or fighters during Bill Clinton's and George W. Bush's terms in office.

When asked about George W. Bush’s greatest achievement, Bush hagiographers are quick to claim that “He kept us safe.” And when we ponder that sentiment, we can only wonder at the human capacity for self-delusion, especially when it was on Bush’s watch that the U.S. suffered the worst attack on its soil since Pearl Harbor.

It’s true that the U.S. was not attacked on its soil AGAIN (by foreign terrorists) since September 11, 2001 (and December 22, 2001 when British-born terrorist Richard Reid attempted to detonate a shoe bomb on AA flight 63 from Paris to Miami), but if you want to give Bush credit for that you must give Bill Clinton even more credit. It was just over a month after Clinton’s inauguration when terrorists bombed the subterranean garage of the World Trade Center, killing six and injuring more than 1,000. Yet not only did Clinton’s Justice Department capture, try, and convict the culprits, Clinton kept the U.S. safe from foreign terrorists (on U.S. soil) for the remainder of his two terms.

Over the eight years under President Clinton approximately 101 Americans (military and/or civilian) were killed and 1,219 wounded by foreign terrorists or fighters either on U.S. soil or “in theater” during a military deployment.

Contrast that with President Bush. Under his leadership, more than 7,077 Americans (military and/or civilian) were killed and 40,030 wounded by foreign terrorists or fighters either on U.S. soil or “in theater” during military operations. These 47,107 casualties don’t include non-hostile deaths of deployed troops (another 1,050), nor do they include the thousands of cases of PTSD and other long-term after-effects of multiple deployments.

So when you hear “at least Bush kept us safe,” keep in mind that you can’t be considered safe… if you’re maimed or dead.

Sources and Related

Note: The numbers of killed and wounded used for this BushToll nugget are pieced together mainly from official reports and news sources. I welcome corrections and additions.

Casualties by Military Service Component, October 7, 2001 Through January 24, 2009, Defense Manpower Data Center Data, Analysis and Programs Division


Operation Iraq Freedom Casualty Status as of Jan. 30, 2009, US Department of Defense

Operation Restore Hope timeline


USS Cole Casualty Release, U.S. Department of Defense


‘At Least Bush Kept Us Safe,’ Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2008, by Peggy Noonan


Opposing view: Bush kept U.S. safe, guided nation through turbulent sea

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat


ISIAD Military Casualty Information, Department of Defense Personnel and Procurement Statistics


In Outsourced War, Contractor Deaths Top 1000, Reuters, July 3, 2007


Updated: 2/4/2009 to clarify: After 9/11 the U.S. was not attacked on its soil AGAIN (by foreign terrorists). I apologize if that was not clear in the original version. Ed.
Updated: 1/8/2010 to clarify: On December 22, 2001, the so-called “shoe-bomber” Richard Reid attempted but failed to bring down AA flight 63 from Paris to Miami in an attack strongly paralleled by the Christmas 2010 attempt by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to detonate chemicals allegedly hidden in his underwear.

Updated 1/6/2013: Unfortunately, several PDF sources on government sites have been reported as infected with malware. In order to keep Bushtoll from being blacklisted, I’ve had to delist the documents on very short notice. I hope to restore working links sometime soon. Ed.

Coattails? Bush and the Republican Debacle

Posted on | January 21, 2009 | No Comments

As the de facto head of his party, a U.S. president is said to have coattails upon which his (not yet her) fellow party members ride into office. For political aspirants, the support of a popular president opens doors and wallets. When things go right, a president gains political allies in Congress and in state capitols across the country. When things go wrong, you end up with today’s Republican Party under the failed leadership of George W. Bush.

President Bush took office with the 107th Congress in place. He had the benefit of a firm Republican House majority (221 to 211) and a majority in the Senate, albeit tenuous courtesy of Dick Cheney’s tie-breaking role as President of the Senate. The Republicans briefly lost Senate control when Jim Jeffords (R-VT) went Independent and chose to caucus with the Dems.

With the 108th Congress, the Senate swayed back to the Republicans (51 to 48 and one Independent) and they fielded a commanding majority in the House (229 to 205) which, despite some shuffling of seats, they extended in the 109th Congress. At the start of the 109th Congress, Republicans controlled the Senate (55 to 44, and one Independent) and the House (232 to 201). It was at this point that the trajectory toward Karl Rove’s “permanent Republican majority” reached its apex. It was all downhill from there.

The U.S. was mired in Iraq. The Taliban were resurgent in Afghanistan. The DeLay and Abramoff scandals had revealed staggering corruption. The President and his administration displayed callous incompetence in the response to Hurricane Katrina, and an undercurrent of public disapproval became a groundswell. By January of 2007, a CBS/NY Times Poll showed that only 27 percent of the public held a favorable opinion of the President, down from a peak of 64 percent in 2002.

As a result of George W. Bush’s failed leadership, Democrats took control of the Executive Branch and the Congress. From their peak in the 107th Congress to the current 111th Congress, Republicans have lost 14 Senate seats and 54 House seats. (And they could still lose the disputed Minnesota Senate seat in the legal battle between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman).

At the same time, the Republicans also lost the majority of state governorships. When George W. Bush first went to Washington, Republican governors outnumbered Democrats 29 to 20. As Mr. Bush leaves office today, the numbers are 28 to 22 in favor of the Democrats.

By these simple measures, George W. Bush lead his party to an epic defeat.

Bush Assumes Office (1/20/2001)

107th Congress
50 R – 50 D (w/Cheney as tie-breaker)
House: 221 R – 211 D
Governorships: 29 R – 20 D (one Reform party)

Bush Leaves Office (1/20/2009)

111th Congress
Senate: 55 D – 41 R (plus two Independents who caucus with Democrats, and MN still disputed)
House: 256 D – 178 R
Governorships: 28 D – 22 R


The 50 United States of America


NationMaster Encyclopedia


Afghanistan: The Taliban Resurgent and NATO, The Brookings Institution


George W. Bush Favorability Ratings, CBS/NY Times Poll via PollingReport.com


The Bush Recession(s) UPDATED

Posted on | January 13, 2009 | 3 Comments

Two recessions occurred on George W. Bush’s watch, the current one (that began in December 2007) being of catastrophic proportions. Here are the facts…

When it comes to measuring and dating U.S. business cycles, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is the gold standard. Founded in 1920 and headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization tracks economic expansions and contractions (recessions), where contractions start at the peak of a business cycle and end at the trough.

NBER defines a recession as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.” NBER uses multiple indicators, rather than any single measurement of activity.

Let’s look at some data from the Reagan era as an example. According to NBER researchers, an economic peak occurred in July 1981 — signaling the start of a recession that lasted for 16 months until a November 1982 trough. That’s all there is to it.

Now let’s fast-forward to recent history. Three peaks have occurred since the 1982 trough, in:

  • July 1990 (after 92 months of expansion) and the contraction lasted for 8 months;
  • March 2001 (after 120 months of expansion) and it too lasted for 8 months;
  • December 2007 (after 73 months of expansion). At this writing, we don’t know how long it will last.

What do these three recessions have in common? They all occurred under a Bush, the first under George H.W. and the second and third under George W.

What makes this data worthy of a BushToll nugget is President Bush’s and Vice President Cheney’s insistence as far back as 2002 that they inherited a recession from Bill Clinton. Not only is this false (Clinton’s eight-year term in office saw uninterrupted economic expansion), it’s become irrelevant in light of the current recession and economic collapse.


On 9/20/2010, the NBER announced that “the U.S. economy reached a trough in June 2009, making the 18-month recession that began in December 2007 the longest in the post-war period.”


“U.S. Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions,” NBER

Determination of the December 2007 Peak in Economic Activity, Business Cycle Dating Committee, NBER

Bush Says He Inherited Recession, CNNMoney, August 7, 2002, by Mark Gongloff

Middle East Bush Failure: Hamas

Posted on | January 4, 2009 | No Comments

In the world of diplomacy, words matter (perhaps more than anything). That’s why when President Bush called for democracy in Palestine, he should have considered the consequences.

In the Jan. 25, 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, the terrorist group Hamas gained 76 of the Parliament’s 132 seats. The former ruling party Fatah finished with 43 seats. By comparison, in the previous election of 1996 Fatah held 55 seats and Hamas none.

These results have to be considered in light of the Bush Administration’s justification for the Iraq War. In toppling Saddam and installing the Iraq Provisional Authority, Bush claimed to be acting in the interests of democratizing the Middle East. The call for elections in Iraq became a political mantra, even as Iraq remained under the U.S. occupation.

On November 6, 2003, Bush expanded on this rhetoric in a speech for the 20th Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he said:

“For the Palestinian people, the only path to independence and dignity and progress is the path of democracy.”

Whether the statement was sincere or disingenuous, the results are the same. Hamas won the election and numerous reports indicate that the Bush Admin was surprised by that result. In a Jan. 26, 2006 press conference, Bush weakly denied being surprised, stating:

“If there is corruption, I’m not surprised that people say, let’s get rid of corruption. If government hadn’t been responsive, I’m not the least bit surprised that people said, I want government to be responsive.”

On January 30, 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was more candid (as reported by the New York Times), admitting that the administration did not foresee the possibility of a Hamas victory.

“I’ve asked why nobody saw it coming,” Ms. Rice said, speaking of her own staff. “It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse.”

While this was in itself proof of yet another intelligence failure, it was also the beginning of the even greater policy failure. After agitating for democratic reforms in the Middle East, the Bush Admin reaffirmed its support of Fatah leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Again standing in the very corner into which it had painted itself, the U.S. refused to deal with Hamas unless it recognized Israel and renounced terrorism. As it turns out, the Bush Admin’s attempt to isolate and undermine Hamas resulted in even greater death and destruction.

In April 2008, Vanity Fair reported that President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams had backed armed action by Fatah against Hamas. Author David Rose wrote:

“The plan was for forces led by [Fatah strongman Muhammad] Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)

But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.”

The result was the 2007 Battle of Gaza (June 7 to June 15, 2007), a civil war in which Hamas seized complete control of the Gaza Strip. Nominal Palestinian President Abbas subsequently dissolved the “unity” government and today we have open warfare in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. Now, despite whatever justification it can claim, Israel faces potential disaster even as it exercises all the asymmetrical power at its command. Whatever the final outcome, an identifiable series of Bush policy failures has produced this almost inevitable result.

Sources and Related Information

Rice Admits U.S. Underestimated Hamas Strength, New York Times, Jan. 30, 2006

The Gaza Bombshell, Vanity Fair, April 2008

President Bush Discusses Freedom in Iraq and Middle East, Remarks Nov. 6, 2003

President Bush Not Surprised, White House Press Conference, Jan. 26, 2006

Middle East Bush Failure: Ahmadinejad’s Iran

Posted on | January 4, 2009 | No Comments

In the Middle East, the Bush Administration experienced several foreign policy failures that can be viewed as direct consequences of its ill-conceived 2003 invasion of Iraq. One of the more prominent failures was the June 2005 election of hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

With its policy of preemptive war and open belligerence toward Iran, the Bush Admin set the stage for Ahmadinejad’s ascent. A notorious Israel-basher and proverbial poster child for the “War on Terror,” Ahmadinejad was the Iranian’s answer to George W. Bush himself. It can be argued that Bush Administration “stirred the pot” intentionally to galvanize support for war against Iran. Intended or not, the consequence of this failed policy is that self-professed reformer Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjan lost the Iranian election by more than 7 million votes. Iran has accelerated the development of its nuclear capabilities. And now the next U.S. president faces a far more dangerous Iran…. and few, if any, good options for dealing with the threat.


Iran’s Ex-Leader Seeks Return in the Trappings of a Reformer, New York Times, May 25, 2005

Shock as Iran Elects Hardline President, Guardian UK, June 26, 2005

Bush Grew Gross Federal Debt by 85.5%

Posted on | January 3, 2009 | 1 Comment

George W. Bush presided over an historic 85.5 percent increase in the Gross Federal Debt.

Over his eight years in office, George W. Bush presided over an 85.5 percent increase in the Gross Federal Debt.

When he was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2001 the Gross Federal Debt was $5.728 trillion(1), or 57 percent of the $10.129 trillion(2) Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

On Jan. 20, 2009, the day of Bush’s departure, the Gross Federal Debt was estimated at $10.627 trillion(3), an 85.5 percent increase since his inauguration.

This debt is 73 percent of a projected GDP of $14.561 trillion(4), reaching a peak not seen since 1955 when the country was still winding down its World War II debt.


1. U.S. Dept. of the Treasury, Daily History Search Application, U.S. Debt to the Penny

2. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, GDP Data

3. U.S. Dept. of the Treasury, Daily History Search Application, U.S. Debt to the Penny

4. The Financial Forecast Center, U.S. Gross Domestic Product

Additional Information

2009 Budget of the United States Government

National Debt Graph, ZFacts.com

Bush Administration Adds $4 Trillion To National Debt, CBS News, Sept. 2008