Monday, January 29, 2007


A member of the Hattiesburg American forum posted some Freeper nonsense today. I took the time to debunk it all (I'll try to clean up the links later. The absurd claims are in bold and the debunking follows each bold heading.

The stock market is at a new all-time high and America's 401Ks are back.

The stock market "records" of late are only nominal. In real terms, they still do not match the record set in 2000 (, before Bush was president.

From the link above:
"What's more, 12,000 doesn't really even represent a record high for the Dow. In absolute numbers, the Dow is higher than ever. But thanks to inflation, a dollar today isn't worth what a dollar was several years ago. That's the difference between nominal returns (how much you make on an investment before adjusting for inflation) and real returns (how much you make after adjusting for inflation). In real terms, the Dow is still nowhere near the peak it hit several years ago. The handy inflation calculator supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that $12,000 of goods and services (or stocks) in today's dollars buys you only $10,184 of goods and services (or stocks) in 2000 dollars."

Unemployment is at 25-year lows.

Nothing about this claim is true.

Under Clinton, the unemployment rate was lowest in 2000: 4.0. (

Under Bush, the 2006 unemployment rate was: 4.6 (

Employment was lower more than 25 years ago--for example, in 1966-1969, the unemployment rate never got above 4.0 (

Oil prices are plummeting.

Oil prices dipped below $30 and were not higher than $35 in 2003. (
Oil prices went as high as $78.64 in 2006 (

Today's oil prices: $54 (

So yes, oil prices are falling, but they're almost twice what they were 4 years ago.


Taxes are at 20 year lows.

Except for the years 1988-1992, which fall within the last 20 years (
And what type of taxes are being talked about here? Which rates? The above link refers to marginal tax rates.
This link ( Go to the bottom of the page under “Appendix” and click the spreadsheet link) shows effective tax rates (as opposed to marginal tax rates), which are lower than in the past twenty years as of 2002.

So it’s effectively correct to say that by some measures, taxes have been lower in the past 20 years than they are now, or that taxes have never been lower in 20 years.
But let’s not forget the FICA tax, which is higher now than it was 20 years ago ( In 1987 the rate was 7.15%, now it is 7.65%.

So it is incorrect at best and misleading at worst to simply say that “taxes are at a 20 year low” without qualification.
It is also worthwhile to bear in mind that we also are laboring under a record national debt (as opposed to deficits, which may go up and down from year to year but still contribute to the overall, and rather large, debt). Last year, to avoid government shutdown, Congress raised the debt ceiling to $9 trillion dollars for the fourth time in five years (


Federal tax revenues are at all-time highs.
This is true.

However, if you’ll look at the chart here, ( you’ll notice two things:
1. Tax revenues increase every year, at least they have since 1962, and so it is nothing special to say that tax revenues are at all-time highs because they naturally increase every year. This claim could have been made correctly every year since the Kennedy administration and it would have been true under Democrats as well as Republicans.

2. You’ll notice that throughout the Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II years (except 2001), outlays were higher than revenues, effectively blunting the effect of naturally-increasing tax revenues. However, in the last 3 years of the Clinton administration, tax revenues were higher than outlays, producing the budget surplus which Bush turned into record debt.


The Federal deficit is down almost 50% over last year, just as predicted.

The deficit last year was $248 billion. The prediction for this year is $200 billion with the cost of the wars added in.
That’s not a 50% decrease or even “almost” a 50% decrease.

The CBO predicted this year’s deficit will be $172 billion as opposed to last year’s $248 billion ( However, if you throw in the cost of the wars–which you should–the deficit rises to $200 billion for 2007 (

But the CBO also predicted that for the budget to be balanced by 2012, Bush’s tax cuts will have to expire in 2010, even though Republicans want to make them permanent.


Home valuations are up 200% over the past 3.5 years.

I couldn’t find any corroboration for this particular claim of home valuations going up 200% nationally. But there is no doubt that home prices have soared out of all proportion to people’s ability to afford them.

The 200% figure doesn’t jibe with the House Price Index, which shows that over the past 5 years, the typical home in the U.S. appreciated at a 6.1% annual rate (

To be sure, home valuations differ in many parts of the country and it is certainly conceivable that in California for instance, home prices may have risen more than 200% in the past 3.5 years. But that is not the claim being made here.

According to Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy and Research ( pg. 5):
“The HPI gives the clearest evidence of the bubble. Throughout the post-war period, house prices increased on average at the same rate as the price of other goods and services until the mid-1990s.1 Of course, there were large variations in the rate of housing inflation across regions and by year. Since the mid-1990s, the HPI nationwide has increased by more than 50 percent after adjusting for inflation. In the regions with the most rapid run-up in housing prices (mostly along the coasts), the increase has been more than 100 percent. While some of the more rapid increase in house prices in the coastal areas probably does reflect the increasing desirability of these areas, they will probably still see the sharpest price decline when the housing market adjusts to more normal levels.”

Homes being overvalued results in situations like last year, in which existing home sales fell by almost 10%, the largest decline in 17 years (,CST-FIN-homes26.article).
New home sales were down 17.3% in 2006 (,2933,247141,00.html).

And let’s not forget that foreclosures went up 42% in 2006 (

Inflation is in check, hovering at 20-year lows.

This is just plain made-up and wrong. The inflation rate for 2005 was 3.39%. It was lower than that in every year of Clinton’s term ( Run the inflation calculator for the US from 1985-2005).
Or have a look at these two charts–the 2006 inflation rate was 3.24%–still higher than during any of the Clinton years.

Not a single terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11/01.

This is wrong.

Many people forget the anthrax attacks, still unsolved, that killed 5 people.
Here’s the story from a right-wing perspective: (
Here’s the story from a left-wing perspective: (


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