Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hyman's Voodoo Economics

Hyman touts recent Census Bureau figures as proof of strong personal finances. A few more years of this type of “vibrant” economy, and we’ll be in real trouble.

There are a number of ways Hyman mischaracterizes the statistics to suggest that the nation’s economic performance under Bush has been good. As nearly every economic indicator shows, however,
things have gone downhill since Bush took up residence at the White House.

Hyman reports that real median income in 2004 kept pace with consumer costs, and that the figures show that real median income “began to fall in early 1999” and didn’t level off until 2002 “the first year that tax relief took effect.”

This is, to put it kindly, nonsense. In fact, real median household income, after falling under Bush I,
grew steadily under Bill Clinton, experiencing an unprecedented five straight years of statistically significant improvement. Hyman claims real median income began to drop in 1999, but the Census Bureau itself (Hyman’s source) contradicts this. In fact, real median income maintained its record high through 2000. Only after George W. Bush took office did it begin falling. After going down for two straight years, it has remained stagnant in 2003 and 2004. For Hyman, this is cause to celebrate, but after the consistent yearly gains during the Clinton administration, it seems a bit pathetic to be breaking out the party hats because we’re not getting poorer every year.

Hyman says that several different ethnic groups experienced no gain in poverty, or slight reductions. What he doesn’t tell you is that over the course of the last year, poverty
has increased in the United States overall, just as it has every year during the Bush administration. What about the Clinton years? Poverty went down every year between 1993 and 2000.

Hyman also is excited about the fact that a mere 15.7 percent of Americans lack healthcare insurance, an “an improvement over the 20-year peak in 1998 when 16.3% didn't have health insurance.” What Hyman doesn’t tell you is that after 1998, the
percent of uninsured fell dramatically, to 14.2% in 2000. In other words, the number of uninsured has gone up 1.5% under Bush. In just the last year, according to the Census bureau, the number of uninsured Americans rose by 800,000, to a total of 45.8%. And what’s also left unsaid is that had the Republicans not scuttled the Clinton healthcare plan in the early 1990s, the percentage of uninsured would be effectively 0%.

Hyman attributes the “good news” to “pro growth” policies that have helped “overcome the 2000 recession and 2001 terrorist attacks.” But Hyman is lying about when the recession started. Again, according to the Census Bureau itself, the recession started in March of 2001. As for the 9/11 attacks,
a Congressional report a year later suggested that the economic effects were relatively small and short-lived.

So, over the course of the Bush administration, we’ve had a rise in poverty, a rise in the percentage of uninsured Americans, and a fall in real median income—and Hyman is trumpeting the news from the rooftops.

Sort of makes you wonder where he learned to do math, doesn’t it?

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 5.23


At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ted,

Do you ever fantasize, that in a better world, you'd be watching another of Mark Hyman's great broadcasts, when suddenly, there on the tube, you see Mark being bound into a straightjacket and being led away?

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Yes . . . yes I do.


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