House Democratic Leaders Demand Bush Explain Economic Forecasts

For Immediate Release:

February 19, 2004

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leaders released a letter sent to President Bush today in response to the refusal by two Cabinet officers to support President Bush’s prediction that the economy will add 2.6 million jobs this year.  The leaders seek a reasoned explanation of the Bush Administration's economic policies on job creation and the deficit.

Following is the full text of the letter:

February 19, 2004

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
 
 Dear Mr. President:

During the past week, your Administration has sent conflicting signals to the American people regarding the sluggish job growth that has plagued America for the past three years.
 
Your two top economic advisers, Treasury Secretary Snow and Commerce Secretary Evans - while traveling earlier this week to promote your economic plan in two of the states hit hardest by unemployment - refused to back up the official prediction by the White House that the economy will add 2.6 million jobs this year. 

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan dismissed the concerns expressed by Secretary Snow and Secretary Evans, stating that “people can debate the numbers all they want…Economists do economic modeling, then make forecasts.”

The numbers you are debating represent the jobs of American workers.  What you believe to be an intellectual debate among your Cabinet members has a real impact on the lives of middle-class American families nationwide.  If you no longer believe your economic program will create 2.6 million additional jobs, Americans would like to know, how many will it create?

In addition, your budget and the White House CEA report make a number of other assumptions about future economic conditions.  For example, you project that the $521 billion deficit will be cut in half in five years.  That number is in part due to the same economic modeling that created the 2.6 million new jobs figure.  White House economists who did the economic modeling made a forecast that is somewhat rosier than forecasts by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and other recognized economists.  If you do not support the jobs prediction in your economic report, does this mean you also do not support your previous assertion that your policies will cut the deficit in half in five years? 

American workers have a right to know what they can expect over the next year and what your plan is for jumpstarting the economy.  Given the conflicting statements of your economic team, we urge you to resolve the differences of opinion in your Cabinet and present the American people with a real estimate of the impact of your economic plan and the jobs it will create.  It is difficult for Members of Congress to support your economic policies when there is no reasoned estimate of their impact.  We are eager for some reassurance that your economic projections and estimates are based in reality, not political fiction. 

Finally, your failure to support an extension of federal unemployment benefits for the millions of American workers who have been unable to find a job in an economy that is failing to produce enough jobs to match population growth, let alone to make up for the 2.3 million jobs lost since you have been in office, shows a lack of compassion for their plight.  Your opposition, and that of Congressional Republican leaders, stands in defiance of bipartisan majority support in the House for an extension.

We hope that you will put partisan politics aside and work with us to extend the temporary federal unemployment benefits program and create the economic prosperity that every American deserves. 

Sincerely,

Nancy Pelosi                          Steny Hoyer
House Democratic Leader       House Democratic Whip  

Robert Menendez                          James E. Clyburn   
House Democratic Caucus Chair    House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair

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