Remember in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history. And what did it get us? The slowest job growth in half a century. Massive deficits that have made it much harder to pay for the investments that built this country and provided the basic security that helped millions of Americans reach and stay in the middle class -- things like education and infrastructure, science and technology, Medicare and Social Security. (Remarks by the President on the Economy in Osawatomie, Kansas)
However, my recollection of those years is one of lower unemployment and economic prosperity for most of us in the middle class. I wasn't sure if I was correct, so I visited the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found the following graph:
This shows the unemployment rate from January 2001 through November 2011. As shown, the unemployment rate increased from 4.2% in January 2001 to a peak of 6.3% in June 2003. Then it declined to 4.4% in May 2007. It rose modestly to 4.8% in February 2008 when President Obama took office.
After this new administration took control, the unemployment rate more than doubled. The unemployment rate hit a peak of 10.1% in October 2009 and has since fallen to 8.6% in November 2011.
So my memory was correct. Since Congress passed the two tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, the economy picked up again. More people were employed and the job growth increased until 2008.
Reading President Obama's statement again, I realized the distortion in his words:
Remember in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history. And what did it get us? The slowest job growth in half a century.
His message is misleading because it implies that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts led directly to a period of slow job growth. This is false. As we can see, the tax cuts were followed by 5 years of job growth and lower unemployment.
It wasn't until 2008 when Obama took office that unemployment climbed and America began experiencing a 3 year period of slow and stagnant job growth.
Semantically and factually though, the President's comment is indeed truthful because:
- we are experiencing the slowest job growth in half a century, and
- it is after the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.
The slowest job growth in half a century after I took office!