The Republicans have been hammering Obama with Ronald Reagan’s famous question, asked during his debate with Jimmy Carter, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” It’s a trick question, of course. The economy collapsed at the very end of the Bush presidency, and the downward spiral continued until mid-2009, when unemployment reached 10%. The stock market bottomed out in December of 2008, before Obama took office. Since then, there’s been steady, if slow improvement. The stock market has regained much of its value, and unemployment, while still high, is hovering near 8%. This does Obama little good, however. “Actually, we’re ever so slightly better off than we were four years ago” isn’t much of a slogan to run on.
A better one might be, “I’m not Jimmy Carter, and Mitt Romney sure isn’t Ronald Reagan.”
It will be interesting to see how Obama and the Dems counter the continuing misrepresentations of the Republican candidates. I’m hoping that Obama comes out swinging, and offers a big, broad, visionary economic plan, even if it’s all but certain it would never get through a stalemated Congress. The Republicans have offered nothing new, just a repetition of the destructive policies that got us here in the first place. Cut taxes for the rich, deregulate business. ”Are you better off now” is a shopworn retread. Can nostalgia for the Reagan era compete with a genuine vision? I hope we’ll find out over the next three days.