The Republicans have I think moved on from bashing President Obama for his taken out of context comment about who built small businesses in this country to a far more effective tag line used by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980 campaign – ” Are you better off now than you were four years ago.”
Although the Romney-Ryan ticket will drive home the answer to this question with a laundry list of examples, the answer to the question, ” are you better off now than you were four years ago” depends on who is being polled.
If you are unemployed, the answer is obvious, No. If you are poor, the answer is obvious, No. If you have seen your home in foreclosure or declining in value, the answer is obvious, No, and if you are concerned with rising debt to be laid on the shoulders of the next generation, the answer is obvious, No.
But with all questions so broad and complex, there are some yes answers out there.
If you are one of those 4 million people who have become newly employed during the Obama administration, the answer is obvious, Yes. If you have regained the value of your 401K in the last four years, the answer is obvious, Yes. If you are an autoworker or a major supplier to the automakers, the answer is obvious, Yes, and if you are thankful that the recession is over and a depression avoided, then the answer is obvious, Yes.
The answer to the question of whether you are better off than you were four years ago does not include whether Obamacare was a huge mistake and a violation of your freedom or the killing of Osama bin Laden or high gas prices or lower payroll taxes – issues that give both sides of the argument some weight. There’s simply a lot of political ammunition on both sides.
So the judgment of the last four years will likely come down to what the current predicament of the voters is and what they define as progress or decline. The election will likely hinge on which candidate makes a more convincing case in answering this question and then presenting a plan for the future. We’ll just have to see.