On the September 21 broadcast of Fox News host Sean Hannity's nationally syndicated radio show, guest Dick Morris, author and former adviser to President Clinton, attempted to rebut Clinton's recent criticism of President Bush by making false and misleading claims about deficits and poverty.
Contending that "everything that Clinton said in that statement is dead wrong," Morris claimed that, under Bush, federal budget deficits are "half, as a percentage of our economy, of what they were under his [Clinton's] administration." In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the average federal budget deficit from 1993 to 2000 was 0.74 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); from 2001 to 2004, the average was 1.78 percent of GDP. Moreover, Morris ignored that under Clinton, deficits steadily declined from 1992 to 1997, and the budget ran surpluses in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Under Bush, a surplus in 2001 became deficits in following years.
Morris also claimed that the U.S. poverty rate is "two points lower than when he [Clinton] took office, and it's lower in the midpoint of Bush's term than it was at the midpoint of his [Clinton's] term." Media Matters for America has previously debunked (here and here) this highly misleading assertion, which is making the rounds among conservative media figures. In fact, under the Clinton administration, the poverty rate declined from 15.1 percent in 1993 to 11.3 percent in 2000. By contrast, the poverty rate has increased every year of the Bush presidency, from 11.7 percent in 2001 to 12.7 percent in 2004. Having made a related false claim, The Washington Post corrected an editorial that, in effect, masked Bush's record on poverty. Media Matters noted the error, and the correction followed.
From the September 21 broadcast of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
MORRIS: Now, let me also say that I think that everything that Clinton said in that statement is dead wrong. I have an article, I think, coming up in tomorrow's Post kind of rebutting it. He said the deficits are out of control. They're not. They're about half, as a percentage of our economy, of what they were under his administration. He said poverty is soaring. It's not. It's two points lower than when he took office, and it's lower in the midpoint of Bush's term than it was at the midpoint in his term. He said that our whole approach is basically to only help middle-class people in the Gulf, and that's transparently absurd.