- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2002

Al Gore returned to Capitol Hill last week for the first time in 18 months and delivered a fiery speech fiercely criticizing the economic policies of the Bush administration. Having inherited what he and Bill Clinton repeatedly characterized as "the worst economy in 50 years," the former vice president asserted that the Clinton-Gore administration built "the strongest economy in history." The facts prove otherwise.

In Mr. Gore's version of events, which Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has been echoing for months, George W. Bush could not have asked for a better economy when he was inaugurated Jan. 20, 2001. But the Bush administration, Messrs. Gore and Daschle argue, blew it, especially by leading what would prove to be the successful charge to reduce taxes. The tax cut, according to some bizarre economic theory to which Mr. Daschle evidently subscribes, caused the recession.

This week, the Commerce Department released its customary July revisions for the economy, in this case going back to 1999. What Mr. Gore hyperbolically considered "the strongest economy in history," it turns out, was on the brink of a recession at the end of 2000. During the last six months of that year, the annual rate of growth was 0.8 percent. Thus, it should be no surprise that the revised data reveal that the recent recession almost certainly began before Mr. Bush entered office. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) actually declined during last year's first quarter, as it did for the following two quarters as well. Mr. Bush, it's worth recalling for Mr. Daschle's benefit, did not sign his tax-relief program into law until June 7, 2001.

Given Mr. Gore's propensity for preaching propaganda at variance with the facts, it also bears mentioning that economic growth in 1992, Bush the first's last year in office, measured on a fourth-quarter-over-fourth-quarter basis, exceeded 4 percent. In fact, during the second half of 1992, the annual rate of economic growth was 4.2 percent, or more than five times the annual growth rate for the last six months of the Clinton-Gore administration. So much for inheriting "the worst economy in 50 years" and handing off "the strongest economy in history."

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