Read Mitt's lips and hear the ghost of Reagan: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? The press can't stop echoing the question, despite the insistence by many that the question is irrelevant and a sign of media incompetence. Incompetence or not, relevant or not, are you better off?
Well, I guess that all depends on what your values are and on who "you" are. If you're a Wall Street investor, you've doubled your money. If you're the fabulously wealthy, you've gotten richer, much, much richer. If you're none of the above and part of the huddling masses that saw their lives downsized thanks to the miracle of trickle-down, you have to wonder.
Yet there is only one answer possible to the Mittle Man's question: on the whole, America is around one million jobs a month better off than it was exactly four years ago. Instead of losing nearly eight hundred thousand jobs a month, the U.S. economy is gaining almost two hundred thousand. That Obama, what a turn around artist! He sure could teach that Gov'n'r Romney of Massachusetts a thing or two about job creation. That Reince Priebus maintains that only under Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama has the population been obliged to admit that they were worse off than when a president ended his term than when he began it, you have to wonder where he was when the polity of the United States of America and the presidency of George W. Bush nearly came to coincidental ends amidst a collapse of the housing markets, the financial markets, the war markets, the job markets, the health markets, New Orleans and the environment. As Jeb Bush says, no doubt about it, Obama was dealt a very tough hand.
Today, the banks are considered healthy. The collapse in housing is healing, housing prices are climbing, sales of existing homes and new construction starts are increasing. With this solidification in the housing markets and attendant improvement in consumer sentiment, the U.S. economy is poised to grow more determinedly. The world economy, though still teetering, has not collapsed as it was about to four years ago. The U.S. financial sector is viable. Manufacturing is staging a true renaissance. Exports are increasing. A huge jump on the goal of universal health care has been made. Consumers are beginning to be protected from outright corporate fraud, as is the environment from corporate trashing, and the 111th Congress was a memorably productive assembly that produced positive results for the American people. Two years into the Obama administration, things were humming along, the worse was past, although there was much progress still to be made.
But then the Republican Party, gussied up as the "tea party", attacked. They were determined to turn the clock back to the stone age. The Republicans were amazingly successful in their project of taking over government to kill it. It should hardly be surprising that the 112th Congress has been a disaster. That was the idea. When the economy was surging after the effects of the stimulus package was coursing through the country and the nation was adding nearly a quarter of a million new jobs every month, the House of Representatives decided it was a good time to deliberately threaten to default on the national debt. That really slowed down the recovery! And that was one of the more reasonable acts of the House of Representatives under John Boehner. Meanwhile, out in the hinterlands, Republican governors have been dutifully slashing productive workers, teachers, cops, firefighters, from state payrolls, and contracting out state services to the members of their coteries. They'll show us how the private sector does things.
So while you are better off than you were four years ago, you are much worse off than you were two years ago because you've got a giant parasite lodged in the heart of the nation and determined to suck the lifeblood of the country, the flow of U.S. dollars. Oh, that 1%! Can't get enough of that green-backed stuff! Just think of where you might be if it weren't for the Republican Party and all those voters who thought they were rallying against "socialism" as they lustily bit off their noses to spite their face?
Whether or not Reagan's reiterated question is relevant, the media just loves it and won't put it down. Forget glasses half empty or full. Some things are better — all the policies the Obama administration has enacted — and one thing is as bad if not worse than it was four years ago: the Republican Party, a party dedicated to holding up progress. As bad as things may seem, there is one great reason for hope and conditions for change for the better. Despite all the efforts of the right wing cabal to suppress the vote, the United States is still a democracy and it is election time. Nancy Pelosi can regain her speakership, Barack Obama can retain the White House, and the hangover from the Bush compassionate conservative binge can be finally relegated to history and America can move on.