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The Verdict is in: Guess Who's The Worst President in US History?

There is much debate about who was the best or worst president in US history. It's too important of a subject to rely on opinion polls which are skewed by the influence of individual bias and political views. Yet It's difficult to quantify how good or bad any president may have been in comparison to another. However, a careful look at the facts shows one president failed in virtually every aspect of the job to a degree unrivaled by any other president.

When you review the facts below and consider his impact on our economy, foreign policy and domestic policy, by almost any standard, it’s difficult to find any president who did more harm and left the country in worse shape than George W. Bush.

As you read this article, please feel free to fact check everything as well as checking the links I provided to verify these facts.

Take a close look at this graph. The dark blue lines show how George W. Bush took us from budget surpluses to record deficits.
Take a close look at this graph. The dark blue lines show how George W. Bush took us from budget surpluses to record deficits.
Source: Congressional Budget Office

1. Bush wiped out a growing budget surplus and left us with the biggest deficit in history.

Although he was the first president in decades to inherit a budget surplus, George W. Bush immediately wiped out that surplus, turned it into the biggest budget deficit in history (exceeding one trillion dollars per year by the time he left office) and added more debt than all presidents before him combined..

Bush claimed that tax cuts for the rich would stimulate the economy and reduce the deficit. What ultimately happened was just the opposite; the economy collapsed and every tax cut caused the budget deficit to grow bigger

2. Bush left office with the worst record of job creation since Herbert Hoover.

Although he inherited an unemployment rate of just 4% when he was sworn in as president, by the time Bush left office, unemployment was skyrocketing and the economy was losing 750,000 jobs per month.

Bush's reliance on tax cuts for the wealthy to stimulate the economy and create jobs was a dismal failure.

You have to go all the way back to Herbert Hoover to find a president with a worse record of job creation than George W. Bush.

Jimmy Carter, who is often ridiculed by Republicans, oversaw the creation of ten million new jobs during his 4 years in office compared to less than 3 million net jobs during Bush’s 8 years in office.

3. After promising not to touch Social Security, President Bush took billions from the Social Security trust fund.

While running for president, George W. Bush promised not to touch the Social Security trust fund. Yet barely six months after taking office he broke this promise and began siphoning money from Social Security to make up for the budget shortfall. After taking hundreds of billions from the trust fund, he then said Social Security was broke and he attempted to privatize it

Source: (AFP Photo / Sail Loeb)

4. Bush reversed all the trends of peace and prosperity from the Clinton years.

Here is what President Bush inherited from President Clinton when he came to office:

  • 4% unemployment,
  • A $200 billion budget surplus,
  • A stock market that had tripled in value over the previous 8 years,
  • The best rate of job creation in history (22 million new jobs in 8 years).

Bush brought all that prosperity to a screeching halt. By the time he left office we had:

  • Unemployment heading toward 10%,
  • A trillion dollar budget deficit,
  • A stock market collapse,
  • A crash of the financial system,
  • The worst rate of job creation since Herbert Hoover.

Census Bureau statistics showed that the nation’s poverty rate, which dropped every year during the Clinton presidency, rose by more than a million people per year for six of Bush’s 8 years in office.

5. Bush gave us the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

Not just one but two economic recessions began during Bush’s presidency, including the worst collapse of our financial system since the Great Depression, requiring taxpayers to spend nearly a trillion dollars to bail out the financial institutions. Real income for the average American fell by over $1500 per household. By the time he left office, economists predicted we were on our way to another Great Depression with skyrocketing unemployment.

6. Bush ignored repeated warnings about an imminent terrorist attack in the months before 9/11.

According to NSA adviser for counter-terrorism, Richard Clark, President Bush was uninterested in the many briefings he received from the CIA and NSA about likely terrorist attacks being planned against the US prior to 9/11.

Richard Clark and CIA director George Tenet believed the system was “blinking red” with warnings of impending terrorist attacks and tried to express this urgency to the president. .

On August 6, 2001, President Bush received a CIA briefing entitled “Bin Ladin Determined to Attack the U.S.” which referenced the World Trade Center and discussed terrorist plans to hijack U.S. airplanes with New York City as a possible target.

Bush’s only response was to spend a month fly-fishing, golfing and clearing brush at his ranch in Texas. Barely a month after that warning, the US experienced the worst terrorist attack in history

7. Bush rejected many opportunities to fight or prevent terrorism

In February, 2001, after President Bush rejected proposals from the National Commission on Terrorism to create a Homeland Security agency, commission member Paul Bremer (later Bush’s administrator in Iraq), said ”The new administration seems to be paying no attention to the problem of terrorism. What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh, my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this?' That's too bad. They've been given a window of opportunity with very little terrorism now, and they're not taking advantage of it.”.

In 2002, Bush’s National Security Adviser for counter-terrorism, Randy Beers, complained that Bush refused to go after al Qaeda and was holding back troops and resources from Afghanistan to prepare for the war they were planning in Iraq. Beers later quit the Bush administration out of frustration with Bush’s lack of interest in destroying al Qaeda

Source: AP Photo

8. After 9/11, Bush allowed New Yorkers to be exposed to dangerous levels of toxins from the World Trade Center

After the World Trade Center collapsed, the EPA had information indicating that there were dangerously high levels of toxic substances like asbestos in the air. But the Bush administration pressured the EPA to issue a statement saying the air in and around ground zero was safe to breathe and encuraged New Yorkers to return to work. In fact, the level of toxic chemicals was many times higher than what the EPA considers safe.

9. Bush used false information to justify going to war with Iraq

Leading up to the Iraq war, President Bush used questionable information from dubious sources to convince Congress and the American people that we needed to go to war in Iraq. He claimed in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from the country of Niger even though the CIA had removed that claim from a previous speech after they concluded it was untrue.

Bush claimed that Iraq acquired aluminum tubes which could only be used for building nuclear weapons. But U.S. intelligence confirmed before the war that the tubes had nothing to do with any nuclear program.

He rejected information from his own weapons inspectors that he sent into Iraq who told him that Iraq had no nuclear weapons program.

He also claimed there was a direct connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda even though the CIA and NSA said there was no such connection.

Source: Reuters

10. Bush started the two longest wars in our nation’s history.

After initially overthrowing the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Bush withheld troops and resources from that war to prepare for the war in Iraq. This allowed the Taliban to retake large portions of Afghanistan within two years.

The Iraq war, which started under false pretenses, was arguably the single biggest foreign policy blunder in US history. After sending hundreds of thousands of Americans off to war with the promise of a quick victory, and a short war that would pay for itself, these wars dragged on for years costing thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. The overthrow of Iraq led to the creation of several Islamic militant groups and a lengthy civil war that completely destabilized the entire Middle East region.

The most direct result of the war was an increase in worldwide terrorism.

11. Bush and Cheney allowed war profiteers like Halliburton to make billions on the war.

After the invasion of Iraq, Halliburton, which had given Dick Cheney a $40 million severance package, received a huge contract to run the Iraqi oil fields without having to bid against any competitors

Halliburton made at least $39 billion over the course of the Iraq war and overcharged the government tens of millions of dollars. Cheney’s stock options in Halliburton earned him millions of dollars after he became vice president

President Bush looking out the window of Air Force One observing the devastation of hurricane Katrina.
President Bush looking out the window of Air Force One observing the devastation of hurricane Katrina.
Source: Reuters

12. Bush continued to vacation for several days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans

While thousands died and tens of thousands were struggling to survive due to the flooding in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, President Bush continued to remain on vacation.

After the levees broke and New Orleans flooded, Bush sprang into action by flying to Arizona to play golf. Then he flew to San Diego to play guitar with a country singer.  It was not until 3 days after Katrina hit that public outcry was loud enough that Bush decided to end his vacation, but he still took time to play one more round of golf before flying back to Washington.

13. Bush frequently used 9/11 as an excuse to violate the U.S. Constitution.

  • He violated the 4th Amendment when he authorized the NSA to illegally wiretap American citizens’ phones without a warrant.
  • He further violated the Constitution when he managed to get a provision into the Patriot Act giving him sole authority to imprison people indefinitely without due process of law.
  • He violated the 8th Amendment (in addition to US laws and international treaties) by authorizing the torture of detainees who had not even been charged with any crime despite the fact that torture is the most ineffective and unreliable method of getting information.

14. Bush was terrible for the health of the American people

George W. Bush broke his campaign promise to enact stricter emissions standards for Carbon Dioxide while he relaxed standards enabling polluters to put more toxins such as mercury into our atmosphere. He relaxed clean water standards to allow higher levels of arsenic and mercury in our drinking water and he weakened workplace health and safety standards to benefit big corporations.

In 2003, Bush gutted the Clean Air Act so that energy companies could substantially increase the amount of pollution generated by older energy generating plants.

15. Bush lied to Congress about the cost of his Medicare Prescription Drug program

In 2003, Congressional leaders refused to support the Medicare Prescription Drug bill if it exceeded $400 billion. So President Bush told them it would cost exactly $400 billion. We now know that Bush was aware that the actual cost would be over $550 billion (cost estimates eventually reached $1.2 trillion). Medicare official Richard Foster was even threatened with termination of his job if he revealed the true cost of the bill to Congress.

Ironically, the same Republicans in Congress who voted for the Medicare Prescription expansion which added over a trillion dollars to our debt, voted against Obamacare which actually reduces the deficit.

16. Bush lowered America’s standing in the world community.

Most of America’s traditional allies condemned the invasion of Iraq and the use of torture on detainees. The Iraq war inspired unprecedented hatred for America in much of the world. Even US allies like Egyptian president Hosni Mubarik said the Iraq war “will create a hundred more Osama bin Ladens”.

In 2004, former Air Force chief of staff, General Tony McPeak said President Bush had "alienated our friends, damaged our credibility around the world, reduced our influence to an all-time low in my lifetime and given hope to our enemies."

After leaving office, President Bush even had to cancel a trip to Switzerland due to large scale protests calling for him to be arrested.

That's 16 reasons that would easily justify impeachment

...and we haven’t even mentioned doubling the price of gasoline, exploiting 9/11 for political gain, setting the record for most time spent on vacation, cutting veterans benefits, suppressing scientific findings about global warming, flying in hecklers to disrupt the 2001 recount in Florida, refusing to testify under oath before the 9/11 commission, outing a covert CIA agent for political reasons and leaving office with a 30% job approval rating.

Yes, other presidents have had their failures.

Herbert Hoover presided over the economic crash of the Great Depression, Lyndon Johnson dragged us into the Vietnam War, Nixon and Reagan had more people in their administrations convicted of serious crimes than any other presidents and James Polk started the Mexican-American War under false pretenses. Yet none of them had failed so thoroughly in so many aspects of the job as President Bush.

There's Only One Inescapable Conclusion

We are all influenced by our own political bias, including this author. But setting political opinions aside and just looking at the facts, it's hard to imagine any other American president who inherited a better overall national and international situation while leaving the country in more dismal shape than George W. Bush.

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Replies to This Discussion

Well, prophecy points to the second coming, believe it or not. 

I should have said government, instead of countries. Of course citizens of the country are what makes America great! The govt in DC has always been the problem (see: US Civil War)

re: Name one country on earth today that is "good".

Shannon, as a former Catholic myself, how is it a conspiracy theory? 

I often hear within Adventist communities saying that "Amongst human commandments (horizontal) such as policies, rules and protocols... when we drive, gamesports, at schools/jobs, government or cultures...let's be as liberal as we can and not to be so dogmatic. Let's be as lukewarm as we can. That's OK.

However, when we come to the Law, Principals, Standards and the Commandment of God (vertical) it's better to become cold or hot. Let's not feel embarrassed to become as conservative (to conserve) as we can. No neutrality, and realizing that "narrow is the gate" which is go to the everlasting life.

Unfortunately, within Adventist communities today, we're mistakenly too proud with the opposite direction.

o dear!

It is interesting to note that Bush was not at the last republican convention

for probably more than 16 reasons!

ugh !

..nor Palin nor Cheney nor McCain nor etc.

God bless his lil heart

George H.W. Bush was a terrible president. I also don't think Obama is that great. Andrew Jackson made thousands of Native Americans move from their ancestral lands to Oklahoma Territory. I do wish he wasn't on the $20 bill.

Worst US president was Bush jr followed by Reagan.

I would agree Bush Jr. is worst, then Hoover and Nixon.

Brian Kolfage 

A triple-amputee veteran of the War in Iraq

My Open Letter to Obama.

I nearly died in a war that you and most of your colleagues supported overwhelmingly, including the two presidents who came before you. Many citizens may not agree with waging war in Iraq to free the oppressed Iraqi citizens, but it’s something that warriors like myself have zero control over. I joined to serve my country and to better my life. I’ve seen things that you could never imagine, and they have made me the person I am today.

Mr. Obama, even though we share extreme opposite views, we have one thing in common, we both attended school in Hawaii. However, that’s where the similarities end. You see, as you attended your exclusive, private school, I would ride my bike to Kaimuki High school in one of the roughest areas in Hawaii every morning and would ride past Punahou, the exclusive private school you attended. I would notice the Bentleys, Maserati’s, and fancy foreign cars that all the kids were dropped off in; wow it must have been extremely rough in Hawaii living that life, right? I could only imagine what it was like to have that kind of money. Fortunately for you, not many people are aware of the school and the upper class citizens who attended it. The tuition to attend your exclusive, private school was more than it cost me to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Arizona. You talk a big game when it comes to financial inequality, yet I’m quite sure you have no idea what it’s truly like to have sacrifice. You were one of the elitist children in Hawaii.

After High School, we each chose very different paths. You were able to attend Ivy League schools, and I sought out a military career to in hopes of earning a degree. What we have in life as children usually sets the tone for what we will face later in life that will make us successful. I worked to get where I am today, and YOU WERE HANDED IT….Mr. Inequality.

I volunteered to go to Iraq on both of my deployments, and the second time I begged to go even after I wasn’t selected, which ultimately got me placed on the team where I would lose both legs and my dominant arm. I’ve never asked myself was losing 3 limbs in a war worth it, even though many Americans were against it.

I am frequently reminded of the many young Iraqi children who would beg me for water, food, and toys while I was stationed in Iraq. Children, who in all aspects made the poorest of poor American children look rich. You have no idea what it really means to be poor. It’s laughable that you, who would have no idea what it means to be poor would so frequently play the inequality card.

While I was in Iraq, our mission was to liberate the Iraqi citizens from a tyrant and that’s what we did. Never forget, it was your people who sent us there, like the Clintons, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi & Carl Levin. However, since the day you busted onto the scene you’ve been talking about ending the war and pulling the troops out, not understanding the blood sweat and tears that so many Americans and Iraqi’sinvested. And with complete disregard for every life sacrificed, every limb lost, and every broken family, you bailed on our mission to pursue an agenda that was completely centered on your re-election in 2012. If you didn’t bail on Iraq you were worried that you may not get re-elected and that’s a fact. Just before elections on Oct 11, 2012 you said “Al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead.” Look at Iraq now, they are in shambles and the Al Qaeda flag is flying freely. Clearly, you’re unfit for duty as a Commander in Chief. You put your own agenda ahead of America’s agenda, and now you have single handedly ruined and destroyed nearly everything we gained in Iraq. It clearly means nothing to you, because the only thing that you’ve personally invested in that country was a promise to bail on them. However, people like me gave limbs, friends have died, and we’ve watched families destroyed by war’s aftermath.

I’m not placing blame on you for the war, I’m placing blame on you for destroying what we’ve worked so hard to build. You’re not a leader, you’re a community organizer. A leader would have stood up regardless of the situation and put America’s agenda first and that is ensuring a secure Iraq even after 10 years of war. But, you placed Barack first, just as Robert Gates confirmed in his new book. I can’thelp but think of those poor kids who I gave water and toys to 11 years ago. They’re probably 15 or 16 years old now, and I can only imagine what it’s like for them to have their nation being torn apart yet again; all because of your poor leadership qualities. Regardless of why we went to Iraq, its water under the bridge. We went there, we waged war, and we not only owed it to our KIA’s but we owed it to the citizens of Iraq. We invaded their country and turned it upside down, and you bailed on them. You bailed on our soldiers and you’ve wasted every death and every limb, it’s all for nothing. And to make matters worse you blame others for your failures

You’re just another elitist rich thug who’s pretended to live the rough life growing up in the inner-city. You’re only worried about your own agenda and furthering your party instead of taking care of Americans. Your inability to be a leader at some of the most critical points has caused both of our wars to fail. You’ve been a joke to most of our veteran community and we have no faith in your ability to lead.

Senior Airman Ret Brian Kolfage USAF 

 

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