Half of all Americans became poorer while the richest 1 percent became richer under Bush’s policies. Are these two facts related? Apologists for Bush’s pro-rich policies say no, that economics is not a zero sum game. But that argument is false in this case.

Economics is not a zero sum game if the economy is growing at a good pace–there’s more to go around for everybody. Even with a growing economy, it’s still possible for wealth to move from the poor to the rich if the rules are designed to make that happen. After taking inflation into account, the U.S. economy is not growing, so it amounts to a zero sum game.

If the economy is stagnant or shrinking, as the inflation-corrected numbers show, then wealth moved from the less-fortunate half of Americans into the pockets of the richest one percent. Wealth trickled up, not down. Bush’s policies, which are designed to tilt the table in favor of the rich, are doing just what they were designed to do.

The last time the richest Americans had such a large slice of the pie was in the 1920’s, before the Great Depression.