Are you better off now than you were four years ago?
Four years ago, September 2008, was when the Bush/Greenspan economy imploded, starting with the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy and spreading through the financial community. It was a house of cards created by Bush’s deficit-funded wars and Medicare benefit, his military spending spree and his tax giveaways, combined with the housing bubble that Greenspan’s Fed inflated. The Wall Street Journal commented in 2009 that the Bush tax cuts led to the "worst track record for jobs in recorded history."
The Republicans’ deregulation fetish and the failure of oversight by the crony-capitalists Bush put in charge of the hen house turned a blind eye to Wall Street’s manipulation of the sub-prime mortgage market.
The ensuing financial crisis put the economy into a tailspin and killed the middle class aspirations of millions of Americans, whose jobs were destroyed and mortgages foreclosed; a total of 2.6 million jobs were lost just in the year's final four months, according to the U.S. Labor Department, the highest yearly job-loss figure since 1945. The result of the Bush recession was that by 2010, the median family had lost nearly 40% of its net worth.
The Bush administration’s response was the $700 billion TARP program Paulson engineered to bail out Wall Street but which left homeowners, the putative beneficiaries of the program, on their own.
Bush’s policies also left a $1.2 trillion deficit to his successor, the CBO projected, before Obama was ever elected.
The freefall continued into 2009, when Obama took office. The economy lost 741,000 more jobs in January, 681,000 more jobs in February, and in March 2009, 652,000 more jobs.
It was only after The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed in February 2009, began to take effect that the economy picked up. It provided for $288 billion in tax cuts and a $500 billion investment in infrastructure, education, health and clean energy. The CBO has estimated that the legislation has saved or created a total of 3 million jobs.
Starting in January 2010, the economy created private sector jobs for 30 straight months, a total of 4.5 million jobs. The auto bailout that Romney opposed also saved more than a million jobs.
Four years ago we were fighting the two longest wars in U.S. history. Yet when Obama withdrew our troops from Iraq, Romney labeled the development “tragic.”
We know who it was who got Osama bin Laden. Bush argued (in 2005) that bin Laden wasn’t that important anymore; he didn’t really worry about him. The USG even closed down the bin Laden unit in the CIA. Romney shared that view, arguing that bin Laden wasn’t worth the money or the effort.
If you are nostalgic for Bush’s disastrous policies, then you’ll love Romney, the front man for the plutocrats. He favors more tax cuts for the wealthy and more deregulation, with an added twist: he’ll raise taxes on 95% of the population in order to finance his tax giveaways to the fat cats, and raise the debt by almost $5 trillion dollars.
Beyond that, Romney’s tied to a platform that opposes abortion in every case and advocates overturning Roe v. Wade. The same people who whine about their religious freedom being taken away want to impose their medieval views on contraception on the rest of the country.
Ryan’s budget, which was already passed by the house, would cut funding for financial reform and consumer protection. As Elizabeth Warren expressed it, Romney and Paul Ryan would “pulverize financial reform, voucherize Medicare and vaporize Obamacare,” throwing 30 million people off medical care.
If you think science is bunk and evolution just “a theory that is out there,” then the Republican Party is for you, the only political party in the world that denies man-made global warming. If you think that our current military spending, which is almost twice as much (inflation adjusted) as Dwight Eisenhower spent, is insufficient, then Mitt Romney, is your guy. This after all is the “hawk” who skipped Viet Nam with 5-deferments but wants to give $2 trillion more to the Pentagon, despite the fact that we don’t have an industrial state enemy.
One thing is certain: Mitt Romney is almost certainly better off today than four years ago when the stock market collapsed. The Wilshire 5000 performance under G.W. Bush averaged a negative 3.5 percent annually; under Obama, if as gone up an average of 20.1 percent annually.