Economic policy of the George W. Bush administration


Economic policy of the George W. Bush administration

During his first term, George W. Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for tax cuts: the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. These acts decreased all tax rates, reduced the capital gains tax, increased the child tax credit and eliminated the so-called "marriage penalty", and are set to expire in 2011.

Tax policy

Initial passage

Facing opposition in Congress for an initially proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut (over ten years) [cite web|url=http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0102/05/se.01.html|title=Bush Touts $1.6 trillion Tax Cut|accessdate=2008-09-29|date=2001-02-01|work=CNN.com|publisher=Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.|location=Atlanta] , Bush held town hall-style public meetings across the nation in 2001 to increase public support for it. Bush and some of his economic advisers argued that unspent government funds should be returned to taxpayers. With reports of the threat of recession from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Bush argued that such a tax cut would stimulate the economy and create jobs. In the end, five Senate Democrats crossed party lines to join Republicans in approving a $1.35 trillion [cite news
first = Kelly
last = Wallace
url = http://archives.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/06/07/bush.taxes
title = $1.35 trillion tax cut becomes law
publisher = CNN InsidePolitics archives
date= 2001-06-07
accessdate = 2006-06-30
] tax cut program — one of the largest in U.S. history.

2003 cuts and later

Economists, including the Treasury Secretary at the time Paul O'Neill and 450 economists, including ten Nobel prize laureates, who contacted Bush in 2003, opposed the 2003 tax cuts on the grounds that they would fail as a growth stimulus, increase inequality and worsen the budget outlook considerably (see Economists' statement opposing the Bush tax cuts) [cite news |url = http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5510.htm|title = CBS Interviews Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill ] |accessdate = 2007-07-25] . Some argued the effects of the tax cuts have been as promised as revenues actually increased, the recession of 2000 ended, and the economy flourished. [http://money.cnn.com/2003/11/25/news/economy/gdp/] Critics indicate that the tax revenues would have been considerably higher if the tax cuts had not been made. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/05/AR2007010501801.html Washington Post 2007] ] [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/14/AR2006051400806.html Washington Post 2006] ] Income tax revenues in dollar terms did not regain their FY 2000 peak until 2006. [ [http://www.cbo.gov/budget/data/historical.pdf CBO Historical Tables] ] The Congressional Budget Office(CBO) has estimated that extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts (which are scheduled to expire in 2010) would cost the U.S. Treasury nearly $1.8 trillion in the following decade, dramatically increasing federal deficits. [ [http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/78xx/doc7878/03-21-PresidentsBudget.pdf CBO Analysis Page 6] ]

"See "

Unemployment

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 4.2% in January 2001, peaking at 6.3% in June 2003 and reaching a trough of 4.4% in March 2007. After an economic slowdown, the rate rose again to 6.1% in August 2008. The average seasonably adjusted unemployment rate for this time span was 5.2%. [cite web|url = http://www.bls.gov/cps/|title = Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey|publisher = U.S. Department of Labor|accessdate = 2008-09-28]

Income and poverty

During President Bush's terms, Income disparity has grown. Median household income has more than kept up with inflation since Bush took control of fiscal policy during the 2001 near-recession, growing 1.6% higher in constant 2007 dollars to $50,233 in 2007 from $49,454 in 2001 [cite web|url=http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/h06ar.html|title=Historical Income Tables - Households|publisher=United States Census Bureau|year=2007|accessdate=2008-03-22] [cite web|url=http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p60-235.pdf|title = Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007|format=PDF] , while poverty rose from 11.7% in 2001 to 12.5% in 2007. [cite web|url=http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/histpov/hstpov2.xls|title=Historical Poverty Tables|publisher=United States Census Bureau|year=2008|accessdate=2008-09-28]

Economic growth

Bush inherited a faltering economy from Clinton, the economy having grown only at a 1.1% annualized rate over the previous three quarters from March 31 of the first year of Bush presidency cite web|url=http://www.bea.gov/national/xls/gdpchg.xls|title=(March 27, 2008) Gross Domestic Product: percent change from previous period|publisher=Bureau of Economic Analysis|accessdate=2008-03-30] (see Early 2000s recession). Bush had his tax cut plan approved by Congress in June, proposed early as a response to the economic decline and, despite the aftermath of the 2001 9/11 attacks, managed to keep the country out of recessionPOV-statement|date=July 2008 (defined as two consecutive quarters of decline in the size of the economy) during the time he and his economic policies were assuming more control over the economy. Whatever the contribution of Bush's approach to fiscal policy, and despite the business cycle's tendency to produce periodic recessions,Fact|date=July 2008 under his administration the length of time between recessions, since accurate accounts have been kept (the last recession being in October 1990-March 1991) has extended to a record 17 years (the previous record having been the 11 years between the recessions in 1958 and 1969).

While the economy has grown under the Bush administration, growth was below average in comparison to the average for business cycles between 1949 and 2000. Overall real GDP has grown at an average annual rate of 2.5%. Between 2001 and 2005, GDP growth was clocked at 2.8%, 1.6% below the average of 3.4%, while GDI (Gross Domestic Income) growth was 36% below average. The number of jobs created grew by only 6.5%, 28.5% below the average growth rate of 9.1%. The growth in average salaries was less than half as usual; 1.2% versus 2.7%, respectively. While growth in consumer spending was 72% faster than growth in income, it too has “failed to keep pace with the... average of previous cycles.” Only investment residential real-estate soared, growing 26% faster than average.cite web|url=http://www.epi.org/briefingpapers/168/bp168.pdf|title=Price, L. (October 25, 2005). "The Boom That Wasn’t: The economy has little to show for $860 billion in tax cuts".|accessdate=2007-11-10|format=PDF] cite web|url=http://www.epi.org/briefingpapers/168/bp168.pdf|title=Price, L. & Ratner, D. (October 26, 2005). "Economy pays price for Bush’s tax cuts".|accessdate=2007-11-10|format=PDF]

Despite growth levels considerably below previous levels, a March 2006 report by the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee showed that the U.S. economy outperformed its peer group of large developed economies from 2001 to 2005. (The other economies are Canada, the European Union, and Japan.) The U.S. led in real GDP growth, investment, industrial production, employment, labor productivity, and price stability.cite web|url=http://www.house.gov/jec/studies/rr109-32.pdf|title=Joint Economic Committee (March, 2006). "Research Report #109-32".|accessdate=2008-01-25|format=PDF]

President Bush tried to calm turmoil in financial markets on March 17, 2008, by saying that his administration is "on top of the situation" in dealing with the slumping Economy of the United States.cite web|url=http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/03/17/bush.economy.ap/index.html|title=Bush: Economy facing 'challenging times' (March 17, 2008) |accessdate=2008-07-18] . Bush and Congress had responded to signs of a slowing economy with the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 on February 13.

Recession and rumors of recession

Over the two quarters between October 2007 and March 2008, the percent increase of annualized GDP slowed to negative 0.2% and positive 0.8%. This slowdown, while predicted by many (such as Martin Feldstein, then president of the National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER] ) from the then current data [ cite web|url=http://www.nber.org/feldstein/wsj120507.html|title=How to avert a recession|accessdate=2008-09-28] , a negative growth quarter was not revealed to have occurred until larger-than-average Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) annual revisions were released for that quarter at the end of August 2008 [ cite web|url=http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/2008/gdp208a.htm|title=Gross Domestic Product: Second Quarter 2008 (advance)] . While these figures describing the economic events over this time period still fail to meet the rule-of-thumb recession indicator of two consecutive quarters of negative growth (especially because it was sandwiched between two quarters of 4.8% growth before, and 2.8% after), it remains possible that a mild and very short recession occurred in the time period mentioned, six months being the minimum time frame for the NBER to record a recession. NBER announcements of recessionary events generally are made 6 to 18 months after the events they describe take place. [cite web|url=http://www.nber.org/cycles/jan08bcdc_memo.html|title=The NBER's Recession Dating Procedure|accessdate=2008-09-27]

After the passage of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, there occurred a 2.8% GDP growth in the 2nd quarter of 2008 (as mentioned above) according to final BEA estimates. While there is no guarantee such a recovery will be lasting, it will be impossible (apart from consistently and markedly negative [or, in the opposite case, positive] economic data of many different kinds) to determine if the nation is in a recession before January 2009 when the advance fourth quarter GDP calculations from the BEA are published [ cite web|url=http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm|title=Gross Domestic Product: Fourth Quarter 2007 (Final)|accessdate=2008-03-30] On April 6, 2008, however, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan was reported in "El País" newspaper in an interview as saying that while he wouldn't describe the state the country was in as recessionary (a descriptive term which he stated as meaning marked by sharp falls in orders, strong rises in unemployment and intensive weakening of the economy), he did say that "the chances that we'll have [a recession] are more than 50 percent." [cite web|url=http://beta.ph.news.yahoo.com/rtrs/20080624/tbs-business-safrica-greenspan-dc-7318940.html|title=More than 50 percent chance of U.S. recession: Greenspan Search:Economy on brink of recession, Greenspan says"|accessdate=2008-07-05]

Bush stated that he wished to see the results of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 before acting to stimulate the economy further. Advance third quarter figures will be released by the BEA at the end of October 2008.

In September 2008, Bush addressed the American public on television maintaining that he and his economic advisors had concluded that some kind of bailout of the financial sector as a result of the Subprime mortgage crisis would be needed or the United States "could experience a long and painful recession." [cite web|url=http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=36294|title=Declaring ‘Entire Economy’ in Danger, Bush Calls Bipartisan Powwow for Biggest Bailout Ever|Author=Terrence P. Jeffrey|accessdate=2008-09-27] .

Income inequality

Many economists are critical of the Bush administration's policies and argue that the economy is only benefiting the wealthy, increasing inequality between the top 1% and the rest of society. cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/10/17/Dobbs.Oct18/index.html|title=Lou Dobbs on the Bush administration's economic policy|accessdate=2007-11-10] Economists Aviva Aron-Dine and Richard Sherman point to recent data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), showing that "the average after-tax income of the richest one percent of households rose from $722,000 in 2003 to $868,000 in 2004, after adjusting for inflation, a one-year increase of nearly $146,000, or 20 percent. This increase was the largest increase in 15 years, measured both in percentage terms and in real dollars."cite web|url=http://www.cbpp.org/1-23-07inc.htm|title=Aron-Dine, A. & Sherman, R. (January 23, 2007). "New CBO data show inequality continues to widen: After-tax income for top 1% rose by $146,000 in 2004".|accessdate=2007-11-10] At the same time, the share of overall tax liabilities of the top 1% increased from 22.9% to 25.3% cite web|url=http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/77xx/doc7718/EffectiveTaxRates.pdf|title=Congressional Budget Office (December, 2006). "Historical Effective Federal Tax Rates".|accessdate=2008-01-25|format=PDF] , as the result of a tax system which became more progressive since 2000. cite web|url=http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/22537.html|title=The Tax Foundation (August, 2007). "Have Federal Income Taxes Gotten More Progressive Since 2000?".|accessdate=2008-04-14] According to economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, who reviewed income tax returns for all income groups since 1917, found that in 2005, the top 1% received its largest share of gross income since 1928.cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F03E6DD1030F93AA15750C0A9619C8B63|title=Johnston, D. C. (March 29, 2007). Income Gap is Widening, Data Shows. "The New York Times".|accessdate=2007-11-10] Economist John Weeks asserts that increased income inequality in the U.S., one of only four high-income OECD countries to experience a significant increase in inequality, is largely the result of a less progressive taxation structure, the weakening strength of labor unions, which has resulted in "a growing imbalance in the economic and political power of capital and labor."Weeks, J. (2007). Inequality Trends in Some Developed OECD Countries. In J. K.S. & J. Baudot (Ed.), Flat World, Big Gaps: Economic Liberalization, Globalization, Poverty & Inequality (pp. 159-175). New York: ZED Books (published in association with the United Nations).] However, claims of a "less progressive taxation structure" are refuted by the fact that "high-income households pay a modestly larger share of total federal income taxes," which is the generally-accepted measure of progressivity.cite web|url=http://www.cbpp.org/3-11-08tax.htm|title=Aron-Dine, A. (March 11, 2008). "Have the Bush tax cuts made the tax code more progressive?"|accessdate=2008-03-20]

While the vast majority of economists believe that inequality has increased sharply since the late 1970s and during the tenure of George W. Bush, conservative and libertarian economists have attempted to refute claims of increasing inequality by pointing to flaws in the data gather of Thomas and Piketty. Economist Stephen Rose asserts that Piketty and Saez use an older method to adjusting for inflation, exclude government transfers, and they do not address demographic changes. Rose does, however, conclude that while inequality did increase, the increase has been exaggerated.cite web|url=http://www.itif.org/files/DoesProductivityGrowthStillBenefitWorkingAmericans.pdf|title=Rose, Stephen (June, 2007). "Does Productivity Growth Still Benefit Working Americans?".|accessdate=2008-01-27|format=PDF] Libertarian economist Alan Reynolds, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, makes similar assertions as Rosecite web|url=http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6880|title=Reynolds, Alan (January 8, 2007). "Has U.S. Income Inequality Really Increased?".|accessdate=2000-01-25] Gary Burtless, senior fellow at the centrist Brookings Institution, however, stated that Reynolds did not provide sufficient evidence to dismiss the findings of Saez, which are further supported by the CBO. According to him, "many of [Reynold's] criticisms are misguided or unfair given the goals of the Pikkety-Saez project... The CBO handles almost all the problems Reynolds mentions, and its calculations show a sizeable rise in both pre-tax and after-tax inequality since the late 1980s."cite web|url=http://www3.brookings.edu/views/papers/burtless/20070111.pdf|title=Burtless, G. (January 11, 2007). "Comments on `Has U.S. Income Ineequality Really Increased?`" Retrieved from the Brookings Institution.|accessdate=2007-01-25|format=PDF] Overall the vast majority of economists disagree with Reynolds, believing that income inequality has grown and government redistribution is required to lessen the current extent of inequality, which they view as excessive.cite web|url=http://springerlink.metapress.com/content/w4q363786573275h/|title=Klein, D. B. & Stern, C. (December 6, 2004) Economists' policy views and voting. "Public Choice Journal".|accessdate=2007-07-02] cite web|url=http://www.mises.org/story/2318|title=Klein, G. P. (November 15, 2006). Why Intellectuals Still Support Socialism. "Ludwig Von Mieses Institute".|accessdate=2007-08-21]

Tax cuts

Between 2001 and 2003, the Bush administration instituted a federal tax cut for all taxpayers. Among other changes, the lowest income tax rate was lowered from 15% to 10%, the 27% rate went to 25%, the 30% rate went to 28%, the 35% rate went to 33%, and the top marginal tax rate went from 39.6% to 35%.cite web|url=http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=213|title=Tax Policy Center: Urban Institute and Brookings Institution. (March 13, 2007). "Tax Facts: Historical Top Tax Rate".|accessdate=2007-10-13] In addition, the child tax credit went from $500 to $1000, and the "marriage penalty" was reduced. Since the cuts were implemented as part of the annual congressional budget resolution, which protected the bill from filibusters, numerous amendments, and more than 20 hours of debate, it had to include a sunset clause. Unless congress passes legislation making the tax cuts permanent, they will expire in 2011.

Some policy analysts and non-profit groups such as OMBWatch [ [http://www.ombwatch.org/article/articleview/3344/1/180?TopicID=1 Income Inequality Has Intensified Under Bush] ] , Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, [http://www.cbpp.org/1-23-07inc.htm] and the Tax Policy Center [ [http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/url.cfm?ID=500033 Rising Economic Inequality and Tax Policy] ] have attributed some of the rise in income inequality to the Bush administration's tax policy. In February 2007, President Bush addressed the rise of inequality for the first time, saying "The reason is clear: We have an economy that increasingly rewards education and skills because of that education" [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/31/AR2007013100879_pf.html Bush Addresses Income Inequality] ] . However, prominent social scientists, such as economist Paul Krugman and political scientist Larry Bartels, have pointed out that education fails to explain the rising gap between the top 1% and the bottom 99%, which has been the site of most increases in inequality. They point out that if education were to blame, a larger group would be pulling ahead of the rest of the population, and that wages of highly educated earners have fallen far behind those of the very rich. Furthermore, they point out that the U.S. is unique among developed countries in seeing such a sharp rise in inequality, while the composition of its economy and labor force is not - if education were to blame, one would expect the same trend across all post-industrial nations.Krugman, P. (2007). "The conscience of a liberal". New York: W. W. Norton.] Bartels has asserted that the skill base explanation is partially used as it is more "comforting" to blame impersonal forces, rather than policies.Bartels, L. M. (2008). "Unequal democracy: The political economy of the new gilded age". Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.]

The tax cuts have been largely opposed by American economists, including the Bush administration's own Economic Advisement Council.cite web|url=http://www.epi.org/briefingpapers/168/bp168.pdf|title=Price, L. (October 25, 2005). "The Boom That Wasn’t: The economy has little to show for $860 billion in tax cuts".|accessdate=2007-10-13|format=PDF] In 2003, 450 economists, including ten Nobel Prize laureate, signed the Economists' statement opposing the Bush tax cuts, sent to President Bush stating that "these tax cuts will worsen the long-term budget outlook... will reduce the capacity of the government to finance Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as investments in schools, health, infrastructure, and basic research... [and] generate further inequalities in after-tax income."cite web|url=http://www.epi.org/stmt/2003/statement_signed.pdf|title=4. Akerlof, G., Arrow, K. J., Diamond, P., Klein, L. R., McFadden, D. L., Mischel, L., Modigliani, F., North, D. C., Samuelson, P. A., Sharpe, W. F., Solow, R. M., Stiglitz, J., Tyson, A. D. & Yellen, J. (2003). "Economists’ Statement Opposing the Bush Tax Cuts".|accessdate=2007-10-13|format=PDF] The Bush administration has claimed, based on the concept of the Laffer Curve, that the tax cuts actually paid for the themselves by generating enough extra revenue from additional economic growth to offset the lower taxation rates. In contrast to the claims made by Bush, Cheney, and Republican presidential primary candidates such as Rudy Giuliani, there is a broad consensus among even conservative economists (including current and former top economists of the Bush Administration such as Greg Mankiw) that the tax cuts have had a substantial net negative impact on revenues (i.e., revenues would have been substantially higher if the tax cuts had not taken place), even taking into account any stimulative effect the tax cuts may have had and any resulting revenue feedback effects.cite web|url=http://logicizer.townhall.com/g/f48d2bf3-1c51-4592-aa46-191f089d752f?Docid=213|title=Economists on Net Revenue Impact of Bush Tax Cuts. ".|accessdate=2007-11-10] When asked whether the Bush tax cuts had generated more revenue, Laffer stated that he did not know. However, he did say that the tax cuts were "what was right," because after the September 11 attacks and threats of recession, Bush "needed to stimulate the economy and spend for defense." [cite web|url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1692027,00.html|title=Tax Cuts Don't Boost Revenues|accessdate=2007-12-07 |author=Justin Fox |date=2007-12-06 |work="Time"]

In terms of increasing inequality, the effect of Bush's tax cuts on the upper, middle and lower class is contentious. Most economists argue that the cuts have benefited the nation's richest households at the expense of the middle and lower class, [cite web
url = http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/08/washington/08tax.html?ei=5088&en=e1dc830d58c7eacb&ex=1325912400&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1168290792-GR0HodSCCzDHPWdgiU8nlg
title = Tax Cuts Offer Most for Very Rich, Study Says
publisher = The New York Times
date = 2007-01-08
accessdate = 2007-01-14
] while libertarians and conservativesChait, J. (September 10, 2007). Feast of the Wingnuts: How economic crackpots devoured American politics. The New Republic, 237, 27-31.] have claimed that tax cuts have benefitted all taxpayers. [cite web
url = http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20070113-103432-9181r.htm
title = Tax cuts and the rich
publisher = The Washington Times
date = 2007-01-14
accessdate = 2007-01-14
] Economists Peter Orzsag and William Gale described the Bush tax cuts as reverse government redistribution of wealth, " [shifting] the burden of taxation away from upper-income, capital-owning households and toward the wage-earning households of the lower and middle classes."cite web|url=http://www.brookings.edu/articles/2005/0504taxes_gale.aspx|title=Gale, G. W. & Orzsag, P. R. (May 4, 2005). "The Great Tax Shift".|accessdate=2007-11-11] Between 2003 and 2004, following the 2003 tax cuts, the share of after-tax income going to the top 1% rose from 12.2% in 2003 to 14.0% in 2004. (This followed the period from 2000 to 2002, where after-tax incomes declined the most for the top 1%.) At the same time, the share of overall tax liabilities of the top 1% increased from 22.9% to 25.3% cite web|url=http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/77xx/doc7718/EffectiveTaxRates.pdf|title=Congressional Budget Office (December, 2006). "Historical Effective Federal Tax Rates".|accessdate=2008-01-25|format=PDF] , as the result of a tax system which became more progressive since 2000. cite web|url=http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/22537.html|title=The Tax Foundation (August, 2007). "Have Federal Income Taxes Gotten More Progressive Since 2000?".|accessdate=2008-04-14]

A study by the Tax Foundation attempted to quantify the change in progressivity from 2000 to 2005, using the standard measure of "progressivity" as dividing in income group's tax share by that group's income share. (They also pointed out that some studies erroneously measure "progressivity" by comparing pre-tax income to after-tax income; using that measure, nearly any tax cut will make the tax code appear less progressive.) Using this measure, they found that in 2005, all income groups making under $200,000 a year paid a lower percentage of the tax burden than they did in 2000, with groups making under $25,000 actually paying a negative effective tax rate (meaning that they received more money than they paid in taxes). And for all income groups over $200,000, the ratio of tax share to income share increased, meaning that the tax code became more progressive over that period.cite web|url=http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/22537.html|title=The Tax Foundation (August, 2007). "Have Federal Income Taxes Gotten More Progressive Since 2000?".|accessdate=2008-04-14]

Federal budget deficit and national debt

The cumulative debt of the United States in the past seven completed fiscal years was approximately $4.08 trillion, or about 40.8% of the total national debt at the time of that completion of approximately $10.0 trillion. [ [http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/opd/opdpenny.htm U.S. Treasury website] ] [ [http://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm#gdp Bureau of Economic Analysis] ]

The total surplus in FY 2001 was $128 billion. A combination of tax cuts and spending initiatives has added almost $1.7 trillion—through budget deficits—to the national debt since then (October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2007). It should be noted that yearly debt accumulation often exceeds the yearly budget deficit, because, for example, paying the interest on the debt is not planned in the budget to be paid off or because Social Security receipts run a surplus (see Fiscal policy of the United States). The total budget deficit for FY 2007 was $162 billion. [cite web|url=http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy09/pdf/index.html|title=Budget of the United States Government, FY 2009, Historical Tables.|publisher=Government Printing Office|accessdate=2008-04-12]

From the end of Fiscal Year 2001 (ending Oct. 1, 2001) to the fourth quarter of 2007, the economy has produced $6.5 trillion (in constant 2000 dollars) over and above third quarter 2001 GDP levels of $9.87 trillion per year. [cite web|url=http://www.bea.gov/national/xls/gdplev.xls|title=Current Dollar and "Real" Gross Domestic Product|publisher=Bureau of Economic Analysis|accessdate=2008-03-30] In the same period the federal government accumulated $3.0 trillion in gross debt (in constant 2000 dollars) or a debt load of 46.5¢ per dollar of the increased production (for comparison purposes in expressing the size of the debt; that is, new debt didn't exceed new production, but growing economies of growing populations are dependent for their vitality to certain consumption levels, so the increased production isn't necessarily immediately usable in its entirety to pay for the debt). [cite web|url=http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np|title=Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It|accessdate=2008-03-30] [cite web|url=http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost|title=Consumer Price Index - All Urban Consumers|publisher = Bureau of Labor Statistics|accessdate = 2008-03-30]

Most debt was accumulated as a result of tax cuts and increased national security spending. According to economists Richard Kogan and Matt Fiedler, "the largest costs — $1.2 trillion over six years — resulted from the tax cuts enacted since the start of 2001. Increased spending for defense, international affairs, and homeland security — primarily for prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — also was quite costly, amounting to almost $800 billion to date. Together, tax cuts and the spending increases for these security programs account for 84 percent of the increases in debt racked up by Congress and the President over this period."cite web|url=http://www.cbpp.org/12-13-06bud.htm|title=Fiedler, M. & Kogan, R. (December 13, 2006). "From Surplus to Deficit: Legislation Enacted Over the Last Six Years Has Raised the Debt by $2.3 Trillion".|accessdate=2007-11-10] Lawrence Kudlow, however, noted "The U.S. has spent roughly $750 billion for the five-year war. Sure, that’s a lot of money. But the total cost works out to 1 percent of the $63 trillion GDP over that time period. It’s miniscule ." He also reported that "during the five years of the Iraq war,. . .household net worth has increased by $20 trillion", cite web|url=http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YzYzY2JiYzU2Yjc3MjY5MTgyZjJiOGQ1ZjM5MmI3Yzc=|title=Kudlow, Lawrence (April 14, 2008). "What Price Freedom?"|accessdate=2008-04-15] indicating that tax cuts, while increasing the deficit in the short term, has produced a larger tax base from which to draw in the future.

Trade policy

The Bush administration has generally pursued free trade policies. Bush used the authority he gained from the Trade Act of 2002 to push through bilateral trade agreements with several countries. Bush has also sought to expand mulilateral trade agreements through the World Trade Organization, but negotiations have been hung up in the Doha Development Round for most of Bush's presidency. Developing countries blame the US and the EU for stagnated negotiations since both maintain protectionist policies in agriculture. While generally favoring free trade, Bush has also occasionally has supported protectionist measures, notably the 2002 United States steel tariff early in his term.

George W. Bush successfully gained ratification of the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). Supporters of DR-CAFTA claim it has been a success, [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117245928831919032-search.html?KEYWORDS=cafta&COLLECTION=wsjie/6month] but detractors still oppose the agreement for a variety of reasons including its impact on the environment. [http://www.sierraclub.org/trade/cafta/cafta_centralamerica.asp]

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

In 2003, the Bush Administration attempted to create an agency to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bill never made progress in Congress, facing sharp opposition by Democrats. The proposition is said to have possibly prevented the subprime mortgage crisis. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E06E3D6123BF932A2575AC0A9659C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print] . The Bush economic policy regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac changed sharply during the economic downturn of 2008, culminating in the federal takeover of the two largest lenders in the mortgage market. This fiscal transaction is priced between $9,000,000,000,000.00 and $13,000,000,000,000.00 (9-13 trillion) when accounting for the size of the debt incurred by the Federal Treasury. Further economic downturning has resulted in the Bush administration attempting an economic intervention, through a requested $700,000,000,000 bailout package for Wall Street investment houses.

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