The Battle of Better-Offs
For the politically inclined, the time spanning last week’s Republican National Convention and this week’s Democratic National Convention was filled largely with discussion over a most critical question: are Americans better off than they were four years ago?
It could even be billed as the most quintessential of questions, a concise but perfect parameter by which to judge the job an incumbent leader and party has done. In fact, then-candidate Barack Obama himself used this question during the 2008 campaign to both bring emphasis to the current economic recession, and instill confidence that he would hold himself accountable during his first term. One might remember his pledge that his would be a one-term proposition if things weren’t turned around.
Well, have they been turned around?
Vice President Joe Biden thinks they have, and claimed as much at a rally in Detroit on Monday, saying (somewhat incoherently) “Let me make something clear, and say it to the press, America is better off today than they left us when they left.” He then proceeded to state that he’d like to provide the details of why we’re better off, but it was hot outside.
By the way, if there’s ever a finer example of liberalism’s economic and social failure than California, it’s Detroit.
The liberals’ case for our better off-ness begins and ends with deceptive numbers and blaming George Bush. The first are easily combated, the second is irrelevant. Who cares if the entire mess is Bush’s fault? If Americans aren’t better off, Barack Obama is still a failure.
By every objective economic measure, America is worse off now than four years ago. Higher unemployment, deficits, debt, and food and gas prices. Lower income, less job growth, and fewer investments. Over yonder, our relations with and the situations in Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, Afghanistan, and Israel are all significantly shoddier than they were four years ago.
Sometimes broad statistics may be confusing or be twisted to say what either side wants them to say. It’s often helpful to have something more easily relatable that affects the lives of people on a daily basis. Consider that the average American’s income has dropped more in Obama’s “recovery” than it did in Bush’s recession (an approximately 9% drop when adjusted for inflation). When Obama took office, the median income was just short of $55,000. Now, it’s just above $50,000. The price of gas has risen by more than $2 a gallon.
Food stamp use reached an all-time record 46.7 million people in June. August’s manufacturing and construction numbers were the lowest in three years. When President Obama took office, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was 23% (and that was during the recession). Today it’s almost 50%. One in six Americans live below the poverty line.
If the same number of people were in the labor force (working or looking for work) now as under President Bush, the unemployment rate would be over 11%. Obama’s economy is so doleful that the unemployment rate is as low as 8.3% only because thousands have stopped searching for jobs. Even illegal immigration has come to a screeching halt (net zero since 2010). Having an economy so poor that poor people won’t risk the swim is a deleterious indicator.
The spin required for Democrats to claim we’re better off is a dizzying display of political hocus pocus. They know we aren’t; everyone knows we aren’t. So they lie. What other choice do they have? America is a train, careening toward an ominously sharp curve at warp speed. Instead of applying the brakes, Democrats are slathering grease on the tracks.
Worse still, liberals are lying about the most important economic issue of all: jobs. They claim the President has created (or “saved” – talk about spin) hundreds of thousands of jobs since he took over. Of course, this can only be true if ignored are the jobs lost, which far outnumber those gained. Paying one guy to dig a hole doesn’t merit a net job increase if two other guys lose theirs. Liberals are purposefully ignoring the net loss, which is the measurement that matters and tells the true story. This is quite clear to every non-water carrying media hack or Obama idolater.
If blaming Bush and an “obstructionist” GOP congress made Americans better off, most of us would be as stable as we were, say, during the Bush years, when unemployment averaged 5.06%.
Democrats blame Bush’s failures on Bush, and Obama’s failures on Bush and the Republican congress, but they always neglect to mention that Democrats owned congress from 2006-2010. We added 12 million net new jobs from 2001 to 2006. Then, Nancy Pelosi and Harry “Job creators are like unicorns, they don’t exist” Reid took over. Is it a coincidence that economic growth has tanked under Democratic rule?
The recession officially ended in July 2009. Since then, Obama has presided over the lowest job creation rate since World War II.
Maryland’s Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley stumbled over the “Are we better off?” question posed to him over the weekend, causing Obama advisors Davids Axelrod and Plouffe to step in and attempt to salvage the talking point…and promptly trip over it themselves. “I think people recognize it takes a lot of time to fix…” blah blah blah. Allow me to help them. The answer is “No, we aren’t better off.”
Mitt Romney postponed his campaign and opted to head to Louisiana and meet with those affected by Hurricane Isaac. After the Romney entourage arrived, Obama promptly made his way to NOLA, presumably fearing it would look bad if he ignored the state altogether (imagine if Bush had all but ignored LA after Katrina – a media lynching!). Meanwhile, Obama spent three days trashing the RNC for “only taking us back”, meaning no new ideas or faces. Will he feel the same as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter address the DNC this week?
You might recall Obama surrogate Madeleine Albright’s “We’ll blame Bush forever” comment. The Democrats have no intention of taking responsibility for anything, much less their failure to lead. Reasonable minds can debate when Obama assumed responsibility for the state of the country under his watch, but it is unreasonable to believe he deserves a pass for his entire first term. If Democrats are leading this country, it’s with a bulldozer and a wrecking ball.
According to a new survey from The Hill, a smashing 31% of people think this country is better off than we were four years ago, and they’re willfully lying to themselves. This leaves 69% that correctly believe we are not.
If the new Penn State football coach doesn’t win a game this year, he might keep his job. But if he’s still going 0-12 four years from now? He gets fired, and the new guy gets a chance.
Are you better off? Are Americans as a whole?
The answer to this question is the door-slamming point.