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And the 2004 Award For Creative Fiction goes to …

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George W. Bush and his "Economic Report of the President" (published
02/09/2004). I know it’s early for handing out awards, but what could top

First, the report promised a golden future of 2.6 million jobs this year,
then delivered a quick soft-shoe shuffle and a fast-paced song-and-dance ["Sending
Jobs Overseas Helps The U.S."

Then, in that same report, we found a hint of the President’s
solution for the sinking manufacturing jobs numbers: just classify burger
as manufacturing workers [CBS Building
Blue-Collar … Burgers?

The follow-up is a third Chapter that has to be seen to be believed
(or not, depending on your Credulity Quotient). I’ll let Business Week tell
the tale:

Inventing The "Clinton Recession"

No one should be surprised
when economic or budget forecasts coming out of Washington are influenced
by politics, especially during an election year.
But when economic history is rewritten — with political consequences —
that’s going too far.

President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers,
chaired by Harvard economist N. Gregory Mankiw [him again], is trying to
get away with exactly such revisionist

history. The CEA’s Economic Report of the President, released Feb. 9, unilaterally
changed the start date of the last recession to benefit Bush’s reelection
bid. Instead of using the accepted start date of March, 2001, the CEA announced
that the recession really started in the fourth quarter of 2000 — a shift
that would make it much more credible for the Bush Administration to term
it the "Clinton Recession."

For almost 75 years, the start and
end dates of recessions have been set by the National Bureau of Economic
Research (NBER), a private nonpartisan
group based in Cambridge, Mass. The NBER’s decisions have been dragged
into the political arena before, but without impact. In the early 1980s,
Reagan Administration tried,
to convince the NBER to combine the 1980 and 1981-82 recessions into a
single downturn that could be called the "Carter Recession."

who go to Washington always struggle to maintain their objectivity against
the political demands of the administration they work for. Based
on its latest performance, the CEA seems to have lost the battle. [Business
02/23/2004 subscription]

For this administration, it appears that truth is stranger than fiction. Congratulations
on the well-deserved award, Mr. President.

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