The loss of growth under Bush compared to Clinton can be calculated and charted, to make the lost income growth dramatically obvious:
The chart above was generated by by applying the annual percentage change for each income level under Clinton to the comparable years under Bush, starting with the 2000 year figures as a baseline. The actual income levels under Bush were then subtracted from the projected income levels generated from the Clinton annual changes.
Here's the table of the underlying data:
By 2007, those at the 20th percentile (the top of the bottom percentile) were making about $5,000 less under Bush than they would have made if the economy grew as well under him as it did under Clinton. But those at the 80th percentile were lagging behind more than three times as much--over $15,000--and those at the 95th percentile were almost $40,000 short of where they would have been if the Bush economy had been as good for them as the Clinton economy had been. Cumulative losses over the first seven years of the Bush presidency were substantially larger.
Finally, we look at the annual growth rates throughout the period. We can see that the economy was slowing significantly in 2000, even before the economy was officially in a recession. However, Bush's "recovery"--which Republicans loved to attribute to his tax cuts, rather than the housing bubble--was so weak that it was not until 2005 and 2006 that the annual increases were higher than in 2000, and in 2007, they were a mix of higher and lower compared to 2000:
In summary, these income figures paint a picture of an economy spluttering along. It's no wonder that people took money out of their houses--their incomes weren't advancing, but real estate was skyrocketing. Houses, not work, was where the money was.
But what about the wealthiest Americans? Was the Bush economy sub-par for them as well? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer to that question is "yes." The Bush economy sucked at the top as well, relatively speaking.
Upper Incomes-90th Through 99.99th Percentile
In this section, I use the data compiled by Emmanuel Saez, in the table that combines capital gains with ordinary income. As can be seen in the first chart, the top 0.01% of income earners took a big hit in the Bush recession. Their incomes did not return to pre-Bush levels until 2006:
And here's the underlying data:
Remember at the beginning of this diary, I wrote:
the Clinton economy was actually much, much better for those at the very top levels, and thus was not substantially any different than the Bush economy, when viewed in comparison to the pre-1970s economy, for example.
This is where we can clearly see this. There was not that much difference in income growth across the quintiles under Clinton. In fact the bottom quintile incomes grew more (18.3%) than the fourth quntile incomes (17.2%), and almost as much as the bottom of the top 5% (22.0%). But when we factor in capital gains and look closely inside the upper echelons, as the above table does, then we see the top 1% incomes galloping along at a 48.5% increase, the top 0.1% incomes easily surpassing that at an 84.5% increase, and the top 0.01% leave both those in the dust with a 136.6% increase.
To make it easier to see what's happening with the relatively lower income levels, once again we remove the top level from our chart, as we did above, and we find that the shape of the income curve of the top 0.1% is strikingly similar to that of the top 0.01%:
When we calculate the income gap, using the same method we used with the Census data, we find that the top 0.01% ended up more than $10 million short in 2007 alone, compared to where they would have been if the Bush economy were as good for them as the Clinton economy had been. So much for the notion that Bush was good for the upper crust. He was good for his cronies, perhaps. But not much else:
And here's the underlying data:
Man, that's got to hurt! You're in the top 0.01% of income earners, so you vote for the guy who's going to focus like a laser beam on cutting your taxes, and it ends up costing you $40 million up front over the next 7 years... and then there's the mother of all recessions!
Republicans bad for the economy much?
Again, in order to get a clearer picture, we remove the top 0.01% income level, and this is the result, a surprisingly similar-looking graph, although at about 1/10 the scale, with those at the top 0.1% level falling $1.1 million shy of their Clinton-projected levels in the Bush economy:
The data are still so concentrated at the top, that we repeat the operation, removing the top 0.1% income level. The shortfalls under Bush are quite substantial for each income level relative to their base income:
Finally, looking at the annual income growth rates, we see a much more violent drop during the first Bush recession, compared to what we saw with the Census data--hardly surprising with capital gains as part of the mix--with a much stronger rebound as well. However, sub-2000 growth returned as early as 2006:
What we see from these charts is clear evidence that Bush performed poorly for the rich and super-rich, the same as he did for the rest of the American people. And all this was before the disaster of 2008 kicked in. Indeed, the very weakness of the Bush economy overall should be seen as a major contributing factor to the severity of the downturn, and the difficulty we still face of producing a genuine recovery.