Senate Democrats

President Bush Continues Pushing His Wrong Priorities – American Middle Class Suffers

While continuing to push for hundreds of billions in spending for Iraq, President Bush today reiterated his opposition to Democratic efforts to focus on the middle class and invest in our needs here at home.  Nothing illustrates the President’s misplaced priorities so clearly as his veto of legislation to provide health care for children.  Rather than addressing the pressures facing working families, President Bush continues to insist on policies that make matters worse.  The President should stop playing politics and work with Congress to invest in America’s domestic priorities and strengthen the middle class.

President Bush’s priorities are out of step with the priorities of the American people:  

President Bush Is Asking For Another $192 Billion for Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pushing Cost of Iraq War Nearly to the Cost of Vietnam War. “After smothering efforts by war critics in Congress to drastically cut U.S. troop levels in Iraq, President Bush plans to ask lawmakers next week to approve another massive spending measure — totaling nearly $200 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2008, Pentagon officials said. If Bush’s spending request is approved, 2008 will be the most expensive year of the Iraq war…But the new spending request is likely to push the cumulative cost of the war in Iraq alone through 2008 past the $600 billion mark, more than the Korean War and nearly as much as the Vietnam War, based on estimates by government budget officials.” [Wall Street Journal, Editorial, 10/4/07; Chicago Tribune, 9/22/07]

  • But President Bush Vetoed Children’s Health Insurance Program That Would Cost an Additional $35 Billion Over 5 Years. “President Bush yesterday vetoed a $35 billion expansion of a popular children’s health insurance program, a move that left him as politically isolated as he has ever been and had even Republican allies questioning his hard-line strategy.” [Washington Post, 10/4/07]
  • President Bush Has Threatened to Veto the Homeland Security Funding Bill That Increases Funding for Transportation Security, First Responders and Border Security. President Bush has threatened to veto the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations bill which invests more than $40 billion in our nation’s highest-priority security projects, $5 billion more than the President proposed. The money would pay for the hiring of an additional 23,000 Border Patrol agents, 300 miles of vehicle barriers, 105 ground-based radar cameras in the southwestern desert and completion of the 700 miles of border fencing authorized by Congress last year. In addition, Senators agreed to add $3 billion in emergency spending for border security. The bill also restored cuts proposed by the President and increased first responder funding. The bill also boosted port, rail and aviation security funding. [Senate Vote 282, 7/26/07; CQ Today, 7/27/07; CQ Today, 6/12/07; Statement of Administration Policy, 7/25/07]] 
  • President Bush Opposed Increasing Veterans Funding. The Senate passed a veterans spending bill that provided $4.1 billion more than the President’s request. According to the Office of Management and Budget’s Statement of Administration Policy on the bill, “If Congress increases VA funding above the President’s request and does not offset this increase with spending reductions in other bills, the President will veto any of the other bills that exceed his request until Congress demonstrates a path to reach the President’s topline of $933 billion.” [CQ Weekly, 9/10/07; Statement of Administration Policy, 9/4/07]
  • President Bush Opposed Additional Increase to Military Pay. The Senate passed the Defense Appropriations bill, which included a 3.5 percent pay raise, while the President asked for only a 3 percent increase. According to the Office of Management and Budget’s Statement of Administration Policy on the bill, “The Administration opposes the additional one-half percent increase to the proposed three percent across-the-board pay increase. The proposal builds on the 33 percent increase in basic pay since 2001, and the $310 million added to the Administration’s request for basic pay reduces funding available for other, more targeted military personnel priorities.” [CQ Weekly, 10/8/07; Statement of Administration Policy, 10/2/07]
  • President Bush Opposed Additional Funding to Secure America’s Bridges. The Senate passed the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill which included an additional $1 billion for bridge repairs in FY 2008. The bill was $4 billion over the President’s request and the White House has threatened to veto the bill. [CQ Weekly, 9/17/07; Statement of Administration Policy, 9/11/07]

Bush’s budget policies worsen the middle-class squeeze:

Under President Bush, Rich Continue to Get Richer, While Poor Get Poorer. “The richest Americans’ share of national income has hit a postwar record, surpassing the highs reached in the 1990s bull market, and underlining the divergence of economic fortunes blamed for fueling anxiety among American workers. The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. That is up sharply from 19% in 2004, and surpasses the previous high of 20.8% set in 2000, at the peak of the previous bull market in stocks. The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share in 2000.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/12/07]

Under President Bush, Americans Are Working Longer, But Wages Are Lagging.  Americans have worked harder – and more productively – for their families, but are not receiving the proportionally increased rewards for their hard work. Real employment compensation has lagged behind productivity gains. In the business sector, real hourly compensation in the business sector has increased 8.1 percent between the first quarter of 2001 and the second quarter of 2007 while productivity increased 18.4 percent. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, Productivity and Cost Table]

Despite Tax Cuts, Average Working-Age Households Have Seen Income Losses During Economic Expansion, While Poverty Rate Remains High. “The typical working-age household, meanwhile, has seen income losses during the current expansion.  Census data show that among households headed by someone under age 65, median income, adjusted for inflation, fell again in 2005 and was $2,000 below its level during the 2001 recession.  This marks the first time on record (with data back to the 1970s) that the median income of the working-age population was lower in the fourth year of an economic recovery than it had been during the previous recession.  Similarly, the poverty rate remained higher in 2005 than during the last recession, which marks the first time on record that poverty has been higher in the fourth year of an economic expansion then in the preceding recession.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/20/07]

Real Median Income Remains Lower Than 1999, Earnings Are Dropping. “Although median household income, adjusted for inflation, rose for the second straight year, it has not reached the pre-recession high of 1999. The increase from 2005 to 2006 in median household income, to $48,201, appeared to be mainly the result of a jump in the number of people per household who held a full-time job rather than a rise in wages. Earnings of both men and women declined by slightly more than 1 percent.” [Washington Post, 8/29/07]

… meanwhile costs continue to rise on middle-class families:

Health Care Costs Continue to Rise Far Faster Than Inflation. “By several measures, health care spending continues to rise at the fastest rate in our history. In 2005 (the latest year data are available), total national health expenditures rose 6.9 percent — two times the rate of inflation. Total spending was $2 TRILLION in 2005, or $6,700 per person… In 2006, employer health insurance premiums increased by 7.7 percent – two times the rate of inflation. The annual premium for an employer health plan covering a family of four averaged nearly $11,500. The annual premium for single coverage averaged over $4,200.” [National Coalition on Health Care, 2007 Facts]

  • More Than 47 Million Americans Are Without Health Insurance. According to new statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of uninsured Americans rose to more than 47 million in 2006. [U.S. Census Bureau Press Release, 8/29/07]

Home Heating Costs Are Expected to Rise As Much As 22 Percent this Winter. “It’s going to be a much more expensive winter for households that depend on heating oil, the government predicted Tuesday, while those that use natural gas should experience only moderate price increases. Heating oil customers will pay an average of $319, or 22 percent, more this winter than last in large part because of soaring crude oil prices, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration estimated. Natural gas customers are forecast to pay $78, or 10 percent, more for heat between October and March.” [Associated Press, 10/9/07]

Average Cost of College Education Has Risen Nearly 40 percent in Last Four Years. The average cost of resident undergraduate college tuition and fees rose from $3,738 during the 2002-2003 school year to $5,192 during the 2006-07 school year, an increase of 38.9 percent in just four years.[Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board, “Tuition and Fee Rates: A National Comparison,” 3/07]

The Bush Economy: slow job, investment and growth rates:

Job Creation Has Stagnated On Bush’s Watch. Since January of 2001, total nonfarm employment has increased just 4.3 percent. Average annual job growth rate has averaged just 0.5 percent per year. During President Clinton’s tenure, total nonfarm employment increased 20.7 percent. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Employment Statistics available at]

  • Just One Quarter of the Jobs Created Under President Clinton Have Been Created Since Bush Took Office. Only 5.8 million new jobs have been created during Bush’s tenure in office. In contrast, on President Clinton’s watch, 22.7 million jobs were created – a 20.7 percent increase. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Employment Statistics available at]

Unemployment Rate Remains Higher than When President Bush Took Office.  September’s unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, though down from its peak of 6.3 percent in June 2003, is higher than the historic lows achieved in the late 1990s. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Unemployment Statistics, available at]

Despite Tax Cuts, Economy Under President Bush Has Posted Slower Growth, Investment and Employment Rates Than Other Post-World War II Expansions. “What the data do show clearly is that, despite major tax cuts in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006, the economy’s recent performance has been far from stellar. Growth rates of GDP, investment, and other key economic indicators have been below the average for other post-World War II economic expansions.  Growth in wages and salaries and non-residential investment has been particularly slow relative to previous recoveries, and, while the Administration boasts of its record on jobs, employment growth has been weaker in the current recovery than in any previous post-World War II expansion.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/20/07]