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You Cannot Blame 2009 on President Obama

It is an awful narrative: According to the New York Times this afternoon the Census Bureau reported that “the poverty rate rose sharply in 2009.” To be precise, it rose to exactly 14.3%, a shift from 13.2% in 2008.

The Times story is by Erik Eckholm who makes these statistics real by telling you what is counted in the numbers and what is not. Being above or below the poverty line is a matter of more-or-less arbitrary exclusions and inclusions.

But long-term economic consequences are a function of policy over the long run. I don’t mean to shift the entire burden to President Bush.  But it certainly isn’t Obama’s either.

The number of individuals without health insurance, says Eckholm, climbed to 51 million, from 46 million in 2008. This reflects what the Bushies cared about...and what they didn’t.