Harry's 'Bush Lost 8 Million Jobs' Howler, Nailed by PolitiFact, Otherwise Gets Virtual Silent Treatment

On August 2 on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that the economy under George W. Bush lost eight million jobs.

PolitiFact, which occasionally seems to engage in verbal gymnastics to give Democrats and leftists the benefit of the doubt, was more than a little annoyed with Reid's claim, giving it a rating of "Pants on Fire." As will be demonstrated later, virtually no one else in the press has deemed Harry's howler newsworthy.

Here are excerpts from PolitiFact's pommeling (HT Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin's place, where the preferred evaluation is "Liar, liar, pomegranates on fire"):

During a Senate floor speech on Aug. 2, 2011 -- shortly before a vote on the final debt-ceiling bill -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., compared the job-creation records of President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.

"My friend (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.) talks about no new taxes," Reid said. "Mr. President, if their theory was right, with these huge (tax cuts) that took place during the Bush eight years, the economy should be thriving. These tax cuts have not helped the economy. The loss of eight million jobs during the Bush eight years, two wars started, unfunded, all on borrowed money, these tax cuts all on borrowed money -- if the tax cuts were so good, the economy should be thriving. If we go back to the prior eight years during President Clinton’s administration, 23 million new jobs were created."

... During Bush’s eight years in office -- January 2001 to January 2009 -- the nation actually gained a net 1.09 million jobs. ...

... This isn’t remotely close to what Reid claimed.

... From the economy’s peak to its low point, the nation lost 8.75 million jobs. Here’s the problem: The peak for jobs came in January 2008, while the low point for jobs came in February 2010.

This means the starting point for Reid’s measure came seven years into Bush’s eight-year tenure, and the low point occurred about a year into Barack Obama’s tenure.

In other words, Reid had a point in saying that there was a "loss of eight million jobs" -- but it didn’t come "during the Bush eight years." The loss of eight million jobs occurred during a roughly two-year period shared more or less equally between Bush and Obama.

Reid may blame Bush’s policies for every single one of those jobs lost -- an opinion he’s entitled to, but one we are unable to fact-check. Still, his statement is incorrect as spoken.

... Reid specifically counted Clinton’s job-creation numbers from his inauguration day to the date he exited from office, but he did not do so for Bush, even though he used the Clinton figure as a direct comparison. It strikes us as a clear-cut case of cherry-picking.

... he uses one method that makes Clinton’s number seem strong and Bush’s number seem weak. We rate Reid’s statement Pants on Fire.

It will surprise no one that a search at the Associated Press on "Reid Bush" (not in quotes) returns no relevant results. The result is the same in a search at the New York Times. A search at the Washington Post on "Reid Bush million jobs" (not in quotes) returned nothing relevant. A "Reid Bush" (not in quotes) at the Los Angeles Times returns nothing relevant. A necessarily tighter search at Google News (go there to see the paramters) returned 26 items (the first results page says "about 200," but it's really only 26), only a few of which mention Reid's remark, and none of which would be considered establishment press outlets.

For the record, from the time Bush got investment-related and across-the-board tax cuts he wanted (June 2003) until the end of 2006, when Republicans lost control of Congress, the economy added 7.05 million seasonally adjusted jobs. From that point on, any job gains (1.09 million in 2007) and losses (4.42 million in the 13 months ended January 2009) are at a minimum the mutual property of Bush, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Reid. I would argue, and have since I recognized it three years ago, that most of the losses beginning in June 2008 (3.86 million in the eight months ended January 2009) were the result of the Obama campaign's perceived likely win combined with its promises to steeply tax higher-earning Americans, impose draconian environmental controls, and impose statist health care. Investors, entrepreneurs and businesspeople began running for cover, stopped hiring, cut costs where they could, and shelved expansion plans.

You can bet that if a Republican or conservative Senate Majority Leader was off by 9 million jobs in a statement on the Senate floor, claiming an loss of eight million instead of a pickup of one million in characterizing a Democratic administration's economic performance, there would be more than a modest amount of interest in relaying this obviously correct statement. In the case of Reid, the error is so egregious and obvious that it's worth asking if it was a deliberate lie. PolitiFact should have considered formally adding "Liar, Liar" before its evaluation of "Pants on Fire."

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.