There was only one problem with President George W. Bush's claim Thursday that the nation's top economists forecast substantial economic growth if Congress passed the president's tax cut: The forecast with that conclusion doesn't exist.
Bush and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer went out of their way Thursday to cite a new survey by "Blue-Chip economists" that the economy would grow 3.3 percent this year if the president's tax cut proposal becomes law.
That was news to the editor who assembles the economic forecast. "I don't know what he was citing," said Randell E. Moore, editor of the monthly Blue Chip Economic Forecast, a newsletter that surveys 53 of the nation's top economists each month. "I was a little upset," said Moore, who said he complained to the White House. 'It sounded like the Blue Chip Economic Forecast had endorsed the president's plan. That's simply not the case. Newsday, Feb 23, '03
Coalition of the Willing
In this case, it was more of the "coalition of the unasked." In this case, Slovenia, who was never consulted about the war, learned it was on Washington's list. It sparked riots, and even a bribe wasn't enough to get the country on board. The White House, redfaced, apologized.
"Ljubljana - The United States has mistakenly named Slovenia as a partner in its war against Iraq - and even offered it a share of the money budgeted for the conflict.
"One day after hundreds of Slovenians hit the streets to protest the inclusion of their nation in the US war budget, Prime Minister Anton Rop said Washington had goofed.
"Slovenia was one of the states named in the $75-billion US war budget, which must be approved by Congress and includes grants to partners in the US-led military action. Slovenia was slated to get $4,5-million from the budget, which Rop said will not be forthcoming.
"'We are a part of no such coalition. We are a part of a coalition for peace,' Rop said." Independent Online, 3/28/03
Bush was attempting to push through a $750 billion cut while cutting social programs and sending the economy into serious deficit. The Bush budget also failed to account for a war in Iraq. Shortly after the Senate passed a tax cut for $350 billion, the President asked for $84 billion to cover the war.
Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.), the architect of the new strategy, and other top Democrats said Bush is also misleading the public about who benefits under his new tax cut plan, particularly the elimination of taxes on dividends. While Bush says the dividends cut will help most Americans, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that people earning less than $46,000, will get, on average, a $12 tax break, Democrats note. Washington Post, Feb 23, 2003.
"It takes a brazen politician to make up a story that can be proven false and then to keep lying about it after being busted repeatedly. A case in point is President Bush's repetition last week of a story about a fictitious Chicago campaign statement, just days after his budget director was called on it by 'Meet the Press' host Tim Russert.
As the New Republic's Jonathan Chait first reported and we, among others, also wrote about, Bush's claim that he listed three exceptions under which he would run deficits during a 2000 Chicago campaign stop -- war, national emergency or recession -- is blatantly false.
No one has found any evidence that Bush made such a statement, and the White House has pointedly failed to provide any.
What makes this revisionist history so egregious is that Bush had actually promised that he would protect the Social Security surplus and not support deficit spending.
But, as Chait recounts, when federal revenue projections declined in August 2001, Bush and his aides began listing exceptions justifying dipping into the Social Security surplus that the president had 'always' supported. Then, Bush began using the mythical Chicago statement in October to defend himself against criticism of the overall budget deficits that seemed imminent. Salon, June 18, 02
the SEC determined in the mid 90s that the Bush case did not warrent further investigation (although it said its finding "must in no way be construed as indicating that (Bush) has been exonerated"). Nevertheless, Bush twice lied about the incident.
"Bush sat on the board's audit committee at the time. By mid-1990, he decided to dump almost two-thirds of his Harken stock, reaping $848,000. Not long after, Harken reported a $23 million quarterly loss and the company's shares fell by more than 20 percent.
"Asked later if his [Harken] stock sale had been related to the company's impending setback, [Board member] Bush replied, 'I absolutely had no idea and would not have sold it had I known.'
"In fact, SEC records show that Harken's president had warned board members two months before Bush's sell-off that the company had liquidity problems that would 'drastically affect' operations....
"Asked by a reporter this week about his business past, Bush snapped, 'Everything I do is fully disclosed; it's been fully vetted.'
"Has it? White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Wednesday that Bush's tardy SEC filings were the result of a 'clerical mistake' by Harken lawyers.
"However, Bush said in 1994 that he had indeed filed all the required forms on time and that the SEC must have misplaced them."San Francisco Chronicle, June 5, '02
This lie was part of the case made against Saddam Hussein. Although it was clearly a lie, and an exposed one, Bush continued to repeat it in the months leading up to the invasion. Given that the invasion was justified as necessary for self-defence, this could be an argument of an illegal attack on Iraq.
"After weeks of investigation, U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq are increasingly confident that the aluminum tubes were never meant for enriching uranium, according to officials familiar with the inspection process. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.-chartered nuclear watchdog, reported in a Jan. 8 preliminary assessment that the tubes were "not directly suitable" for uranium enrichment but were "consistent" with making ordinary artillery rockets -- a finding that meshed with Iraq's official explanation for the tubes. New evidence supporting that conclusion has been gathered in recent weeks and will be presented to the U.N. Security Council in a report due to be released on Monday, the officials said.
Iraq imported the same aluminum tubes for rockets in the 1980s. The new tubes it tried to purchase actually bear an inscription that includes the word "rocket," according to one official who examined them." Washington Post, Jan 23, 03
"President Bush, speaking to the nation this month about the need to challenge Saddam Hussein, warned that Iraq has a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that could be used 'for missions targeting the United States.'
"Last month, asked if there were new and conclusive evidence of Hussein's nuclear weapons capabilities, Bush cited a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency saying the Iraqis were 'six months away from developing a weapon.' And last week, the president said objections by a labor union to having customs officials wear radiation detectors has the potential to delay the policy 'for a long period of time.'
All three assertions were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought. And all three statements were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States; there was no such report by the IAEA; and the customs dispute over the detectors was resolved long ago. Washington Post, Oct 21, 02
After the war was done, officials inside the White House admitted that the real reason they wanted to go to war was a show of power, not regime change or WMD.
"Officials inside government and advisers outside told ABCNEWS the administration emphasized the danger of Saddam's weapons to gain the legal justification for war from the United Nations and to stress the danger at home to Americans. 'We were not lying,' said one official. 'But it was just a matter of emphasis.'
"Officials now say they may not find hundreds of tons of mustard and nerve agents and maybe not thousands of liters of anthrax and other toxins. But U.S. forces will find some, they say. On Thursday, President Bush raised the possibility for the first time that any such Iraqi weapons were destroyed before or during the war." ABC News, April 25, 03