Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
There’s a difference between a patient being in a coma and, years later, that person is up and complaining it’s hard for them to walk. Their current condition is certainly not ideal or back to normal, but you can’t deny it is progress. It is better than before.
This seems to be the measuring benchmark Republicans want to forget or obscure. And now, part of the GOP latest messaging salvo is asking Ronald Reagan’s famous question which helped defeat Jimmy Carter, “are you better off than you were four years ago?”
What I find odd is, that four years ago, the same people and congressmen who want to use four years ago as the benchmark, at that time, were calling spouses telling them to take as much cash out of their ATMs as they could-horrified as they watched the Dow Jones index nosedive past 900 points in a single day in 2007. An economy bleeding over 700,000 jobs a month. Most the people I know lost at least 40% of the value in their 401k. People and markets were running for the security of gold. Glenn Beck was selling Cash for Gold and bomb shelters on his radio show. The survivalist movement kicked into overdrive, ready for the Apocalypse.
Almost by default, Reagan’s question in this context is like asking, remember that time you got brutally mauled? Do you feel better than that?
In that context, this benchmark they are using is actually a pretty low bar to clear. Democrats are just really bad at messaging.
So from that benchmark, where are we now?
The economy is creating jobs. 4 million to date. Documented. Proven. Yes, not gangbusters. Doesn’t make up for the eight million lost during the downturn. Plus people are discouraged and shut out of the job market. Can’t be disputed. But faced with a choice of a 700,000 a month jobs lost verses a current 170,000 average monthly gain, which would you choose?
Corporations who where watching their credit lines seize – which would have shut down the short term loans they need to make payroll and buy inventory don’t have the problem today. Now large corporations not only get loans easily (“what about us?” say small business) they are flush with cash they don’t know what to do with.
As a Midwesterner growing up in Ohio, the death of GM would have turned Michigan and Ohio into parking lots. Most of the middle class who lived there owe their quality of life in some way to the number plants and industries that feed off of GM. My ex business partner left my company to run a screw machine shop dependent on GM business. Think he was happy with the idea of his biggest customer failing over dead? And fiscal conservatives saying to just let it die?
He’s now profitable and, like a lot of business in Ohio, hiring again. In fact Ohio is doing better than the national average. Better.
Some conservatives and Fox News have argued that, when Barack Obama entered the White House, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was $1.85. Now it’s over 3.60. Worse , right?
No. Remember thanks to the economic collapse that killed demand and speculation for oil, prices plunges to their all time low. Notice gas got higher as consumer demand recovered.
So higher prices (ironically) better. Like inflation, the higher numbers means lots of spending and money flowing.
Reagan’s famous line is true under normal circumstances. But like the great depression that lasted more than a decade, the frustration the Romney camp really wants to tap into is really not about being better than four years ago. We are. The sore point is that it’s not better than the lives most of us led BEFORE 2008. A time we lived in a housing bubble. By definition that means the economic prosperity was unreal in the first place.
Economically we are a country not in a coma anymore. But we’re not spry enough to go out and breakdance (forgive the dated reference). We’re better than we were. Just not as good as we want to be.