This morning C-SPAN was asking viewers “are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Listening to the answers (most said no, with the republicans using the opportunity to spout off every right wing talking point from the national debt to Solyndra), I thought about where we were four years ago.
Four years ago on this date, the economy was wobbly but it didn’t feel like economic Armageddon . Economically speaking, it felt like an ordinary recession.
Then came September 15. Armageddon.
When Lehman went under, the stock market sank like a rock and international markets panicked. The swelling disaster prompted Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to beg Congress on bended knee to pass his TARP bill.
September 15th was an economic 9/11. It changed everything.
It’s been a huge Democratic mistake to miss singling out 9/15 and treating it as a turning point. Again, 9/15 changed everything. More below the orange squiggle.
Starting September 15, the economy began an incredibly steep and rapid fall.
To ask “are you better off than you were four years ago” on any date before September 15 is the wrong question. The conditions four years ago from today are far from the conditions when President Obama took office four months later.
Four years ago today, Wall Street recklessness enabled by republican policies and lack of oversight was relentlessly pushing us toward a cliff but had not quite reached the dropoff. On September 15 we went over the edge.
The fall was steep.
Our plunge downward into a deep abyss took the last four months of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama administration. The descent and landing at the bottom was cushioned by Obama policies.
But Bush administration policies landed us miles below the plateau we fell from.
Four years ago today, we were still on the plateau being pushed inevitably toward a cliff most did not yet see. 2008 wasn’t great, but it wasn’t yet economic hell. People think back to 2008 in general and think “yeah, things were better then,” as they now look up the sides of the abyss that we have not yet fully scaled.
Back in the 2004 election, no one asked the question, “are you better off today than you were four years ago.” Of course we weren’t. “9/11 changed everything.” If anyone dared ask that question, they would have been seen as stupid or unpatriotic. 9/11 changed everything...
Well, 9/15/2008 changed everything, too. But republicans, abetted by the lazy (or understaffed) media, successfully diverted public attention from the real enemy once again.
The economic abyss was a republican creation. It was not a natural disaster. It was the direct outcome of their tax cuts for the rich, their unpaid for wars and their "gut regulations and oversight” policies.
Fortunately President Obama took the helm. Had we hit the abyss a year earlier in Bush’s term, things would have gotten much worse. Perhaps the second Great Depression.
We would have hit bottom before President Obama took over rather than during his first year in office, and less blame would accrue to him for where we are now.
Why haven’t we climbed further out from this hole? Republicans have actively opposed every initiative of this president to get us out.
Even during the first two years when Dems supposedly had control of both house and Senate, republican obstruction reigned strong. Senate republicans’ record breaking filibusters killed most of the great initiatives passed in the House.
We only had a filibuster proof majority for about a day. Al Franken wasn’t sworn in until July and Ted Kennedy died in August.
Am I better off today than I was four years ago? I’m about the same. Am I better off today than I was the day the President was inaugurated? You bet!