Are we really having this debate four years after the nation's worst financial crisis in eighty years? After a near-catastrophic meltdown brought on by eight years of Bush Administration-led tax cuts, deregulation and Wall Street recklessness? Talk about the "fiscal cliff"; have we forgotten that America was on the brink of financial ruin in the Fall of 2008?
During the past several days the ghost of Ronald Reagan has reared its partisan head to incessantly ask, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" It's as if a memo went out Friday morning to every conservative pundit, surrogate and politician requiring them to hammer home this talking point ad nauseam. The answer to the question, of course, is yes. But not surprisingly, Democrats seem to be tripping over their own feet trying to answer without seeming insensitive to or dismissive of the continuing struggles of the poor and middle-class.
But it's a simple question to answer if, rather than spew partisan rhetoric, one compares the key economic indicators of today vs. before President Obama took office. These include unemployment and job creation, GDP, the credit market, consumer confidence, foreclosures, the stock market, housing, manufacturing, the auto industry and corporate profits, all of which have greatly improved since 2008 and 2009.
It's critical that Obama and Democrats confidently head into their convention this week in Charlotte prepared to effectively remind voters just how far they've come and that yes, they're much better off than they were. The following message should be incorporated into every single speech:
If you're poor, you're better off
If you're middle-class, you're better off
If you were unemployed, you're better off
If you have Medicare, you're better off
If you're sick, you're better off
If you were without affordable, accessible heath care, you're better off
If you're a female wage earner, you're better off
If you're a college student, you're better off
If you're gay, you're better off
If you're a homeowner, you're better off
If you're looking to buy a home, you're better off
If you're seeking credit, you're better off
If you're invested in the stock market, you're better off
If you're a corporate CEO, you're better off
If you work on Wall Street, you're better off
If you work in the auto industry, you're better off
If you work in banking, you're better off
If you work in retail, construction or manufacturing, you're better off
If you're a consumer, you're more confident and are better off
If you or your loved one was fighting in Iraq, you're better off
If you or your loved one is fighting in Afghanistan, you're better off
Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi are not better off
But Republicans, who seem to loathe facts and fact checkers, claim that "many people" still don't believe the economy's improved or that it's headed in the right direction. But it really doesn't matter what "many people" think. Many people still believe blacks should be riding in the back of buses, Mexicans should be fenced in their country, Jews should be kept out of their neighborhoods and country clubs, women should be denied contraception and abortions, and that it's wrong for gays to marry. "Many" doesn't make "right."
Republicans may not hold much regard for facts and the truth, but the truth is, the economy, and Americans as a whole, are far better off than they were four years ago.