Bush on jobs: Just the facts

By Tim Grieve
Published October 8, 2004 2:38PM (EDT)

New job numbers are out this morning, and they're more bad news for a president who has already received a truckload of it this week. The economy added about 96,000 new jobs in September. That's fewer than analysts expected, fewer than what's needed to keep up with population growth in the job market, and way fewer than what Bush's own Council of Economic Advisors projected in December.

You won't hear any of that from George W. Bush at tonight's debate. As he's shown time and again this week, the president likes his numbers context-free. In the stump speech masquerading as a policy address in Pennsylvania this week, Bush attacked Kerry for making tax proposals that he said would raise taxes on 900,000 small business owners. As the folks at Annenberg explain -- and that's factcheck.org, not factcheck.com, Mr. Vice President -- Bush got his number wrong, and his definition of "small business owners" includes all individuals who who file certain tax forms, whether they're actually small business owners or not. But even if you accept Bush's math and Bush's definition, 32 million small business owners would see no change in their taxes. Bush doesn't mention them on the stump. Likewise, when Bush talked about Kerry's health care proposals this week, he warned that Kerry's plan would force "8 million Americans" to change their health insurance plans. He didn't mention that 235 million Americans wouldn't have to change their plans.

So at tonight's debate in St. Louis, don't expect Bush to acknowledge that the country needs about 150,000 new jobs a month just to keep up with population growth in the job market. Don't expect him to admit that his own Council of Economic Advisors projected in December that the U.S. would be adding 300,000 new jobs a month by now.

When John Kerry says tonight -- as he surely will -- that Bush will be the first president since Herbert Hoover to have suffered a net loss of jobs in his administration, the president will shake his head, give that little giggle of his, and say -- in a way that suggests that Kerry just doesn't get it -- "We added 96,000 new jobs last month."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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