Right-Wing Media Use S&P "Downgrade" To Rehabilitate Bush Economy


Right-wing media figures are using Standard & Poor's decision to "downgrade" the U.S. credit rating to rehabilitate former President Bush's economic record. However, the economy inherited from Bush was hemorrhaging jobs and contracting at a rate not seen in more than 50 years.

Right-Wing Media: Obama "Inherited" AAA Credit Rating From Bush

Fox's Doocy: "What [Obama] Really Inherited From George Bush Was A AAA Credit Rating." On Fox News' Fox & Friends, discussing President Obama's contention that he inherited a multitude of economic problems from his predecessor, co-host Steve Doocy said: "What he really inherited from George Bush was a AAA credit rating, and now we're down to AA+." Guest co-host Eric Bolling replied: "Thank you." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/9/11]

Beck: Obama "Inherited A AAA Credit Rating." From a post on Glenn Beck's website:

Left blames credit downgrade on Tea Party

Shocker: The Tea Party! John Kerry appears to have coined the phrase 'the Tea Party downgrade' and it's spreading across the media. The left constantly excused Obama on the economy by saying he 'inherited' this economic mess - well, he also inherited a AAA credit rating. No getting around being the first President in history to blow that. But they're trying. [GlennBeck.com, 8/8/11]

Limbaugh: Obama "Inherited A AAA Credit Rating." Rush Limbaugh opened his August 8 radio show by saying of Obama: "Well, he inherited a AAA credit rating, an unemployment rate of 5.7 some-odd percent. Does anybody doubt that this is on purpose?" [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/8/11]

Fox's Bolling Also Said Obama "Inherited" AAA Credit Rating. From the August 8 edition of Fox & Friends:

BOLLING: I'm watching the stock market, the futures market tick down -- 250 lower right now. You know, a lot -- a lot of finger-pointing is going on in the Obama White House at your former boss, George Bush, saying, hey, we inherited that recession; we inherited that -- all that malaise. Guess what they also inherited from you and your boss was a AAA credit rating. Weigh in on the first-ever downgrade of American debt. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/8/11]

Erickson Repeatedly Said Obama "Inherited A AAA Credit Rating From George W. Bush." On his RedState blog, Erick Erickson has repeatedly argued that Obama "inherited" a AAA credit rating from Bush:

  • "Yes, it is true, Barack Obama inherited an economy sliding backward. But it is also true Barack Obama inherited a AAA credit rating from George W. Bush." [RedState, 8/8/11]
  • "You know, Barack Obama not only inherited a receding economy from George W. Bush, but he inherited a triple A credit rating too." [RedState, 8/8/11]
  • "Rick Perry and Barack Obama both inherited credit ratings from George W. Bush. Perry raised his inherited credit rating to AA+ from AA and Barack Obama lowered his inherited credit rating from AAA to AA+." [RedState, 8/7/11]

NewsBusters Posted GOP Graphic Stating Obama "Inherited" AAA Rating From Bush. NewsBusters associate editor Noel Sheppard posted a graphic from the Republican Party of Sarasota in Florida with the headline, "Know what else Obama inherited from Bush? A 'AAA' rating!":

[NewsBusters, 8/6/11]

But S&P Lacks Credibility ...

To see why Standard & Poor's lacks credibility to assess the U.S. fiscal situation, click here

... And The Economy Inherited From Bush Was Hemorrhaging Jobs ...

BLS Data Show The Economy Was Shedding Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jobs Per Month Throughout 2008. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy began losing jobs in February 2008, with employment declining by more than 185,000 every month after April. The employment decline peaked at 820,000 jobs lost in January 2009:

BLS: Nearly Two Million Jobs Lost During Bush's Last Few Months In Office. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics' January 2009 employment situation report:

Nonfarm payroll employment fell sharply in January (-598,000) and the unemployment rate rose from 7.2 to 7.6 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Payroll employment has declined by 3.6 million since the start of the recession in December 2007; about one-half of this decline occurred in the past 3 months. [Bureau of Labor Satistics, 2/6/09]

... And Contracting At A "Shocking" Rate

McClatchy: "The Great Recession, Already The Worst Downturn Since The 1930s, Was Even More Damaging Than Previously Recognized." On July 29, McClatchy reported on revisions the Bureau of Economic Analysis released to its estimates of the economy from 2008-2010, writing:

The revision found that in 2008 the economy actually contracted rather than eking out a tiny gain as initially reported, and 2009 growth was almost a full percentage point slower than estimated earlier.

The quarterly percentage change in real gross domestic product was revised down for six of the 12 quarters reviewed. That means the Great Recession, already the worst downturn since the 1930s, was even more damaging that previously recognized. [McClatchy, 7/29/11]

IHS Global Insight: Economic Contraction In 2008 Was "The Worst Single-Quarter Decline In GDP Since ... 1958." A report on the revised GDP figures from global information company, IHS Global Insight, noted:

The fourth quarter of 2008, right after the Lehman failure, now shows an 8.9% annual rate of decline in GDP (previously 6.8%), and now represents the worst single-quarter decline in GDP since the 10.4% drop in the first quarter of 1958, exceeding the 7.9% decline in the second quarter of 1980. The revisions then made the initial rebound a bit faster (with growth running just below 4% in the first and second quarters of 2010), but then showed the recovery losing momentum over the second half of 2010 and tailing away to just 0.4% in the first quarter of 2011 (previously 1.9%) and 1.3% in the second. Although the second quarter was disappointing, the revisions mean that it actually shows stronger growth than the first. [IHS Global Insight, 7/29/11]

AP: "The 2007-2009 Recession ... Was Even Worse Than Previously Thought." The Associated Press reported:

The 2007-2009 recession, already in the record books as the worst in the 66 years since the end of World War II, was even worse than previously thought.

From the start of the recession at the end of 2007 to the end in June of 2009, the U.S. economy shrank 5.1 percent. That is 1 percentage point worse than the previous estimate that the recession reduced total output during that period by 4.1 percent.

The new estimates emerged from the annual revision of economic data prepared by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis and released Friday.

Among the previous 10 postwar recessions, output in only two dropped by more 3 percent. In the 1957-58 recession, the economy contracted 3.7 percent. And during the 1973-1975 downturn, the economy fell 3.2 percent from the start of the recession to the end. [Associated Press, 7/29/11]

The Economist: Revised Numbers Reveal "Shocking" Fall In GDP At The End Of 2008. The Economist reported on BEA's revised numbers, calling the new data "shocking":

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) revised its numbers back through the recession, revealing a downturn more serious than previously understood. The BEA's first estimate of output in the fourth quarter of 2008, published in January of 2009, showed a contraction of 3.8%, later revised to a 6.8% drop. The new numbers change the figure yet again, to a shocking 8.9% fall in GDP. For 2009 as a whole, the American economy shrank by 3.5% rather than the previously reported 2.6%. [The Economist, 8/6/11]

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