Are We Better Off Today? We’re Not Even Close!
As the Democratic National Convention kicks off today much of recent conversation has surrounded the question “are we better off today than we were four years ago”.
In classic Team Obama fashion, David Axelrod and David Plouffe dodged the question on the Sunday shows, offering typical obfuscation in lieu of direct answers. However top Obama surrogate Gov. Martin O’Malley took the “Cory Booker” path and actually told the truth then tried to redirect the conversation.
On CBS’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer asked the Maryland Governor: “Can you honestly say that people are better off today than they were four years ago?”
Responded O’Malley: “No, but that’s not the question of this election. The question, without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars — charged for the first time to credit cards, the national credit card.”
As quickly as O’Malley slipped up and went off the Obama message, he pivoted to the top Democratic counterpunch, blame George W. Bush. The problem with that argument is the numbers don’t support the picture Obama and the Democrats are trying to paint.
Looking at the Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in six key areas, those that most directly affect the average American, we quickly see the “we’re not great but we’re better off than we were under Bush” rationalization is a blatant lie.
Plotting the percentage change in the CPI in commodities, durable goods, energy, housing, nondurable goods and transportation from January 2005 to January 2009 under Bush and from January 2009 to January 2013 (last five months are extrapolated) under Obama, the lie is exposed.
Comparing the numbers in George W. Bush’s second term, from January 2005 to when Barack Obama took office in January 2009, against Obama’s tenure the lie is further revealed.
Commodities: Bush had a 5.4% increase while Obama’s increase is 13.1%
Durable Goods: Bush had a 5.8% decrease while Obama’s increase is 3.3%
Energy: Bush had a 13.9% increase while Obama’s increase is 28.9%
Housing: Bush had a 13.2% increase while Obama’s increase is 3.0%
Nondurable Goods: Bush had a 10.0% increase while Obama’s is 16.2%
Transportation: Bush had a 1.1% increase while Obama’s is 25.8%
In five out of six areas the percentage increase in the CPI under Obama is close to or more than twice what it was in Bush’s second term. The only area Obama has a lower percentage increase is in housing, and we all know why that number is down.
Combine Obama’s average increase in all six areas of 15.0%, compared to 6.3% under Bush, with a paltry 5.4% increase in mean annual household income since Obama took office and the answer to the question is NO WE’RE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING BETTER OFF. In fact, key consumer costs have risen at a rate of almost three times that of the average earning increase, and that’s not better off by any definition.