No Mr. President, we are not better off under your administration

Presidents Obama and Reagan
Presidents Obama and Reagan

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2014 — In the fall of 1980, Ronald Reagan was running for president against incumbent Jimmy Carter. He asked Americans to ask themselves one simple question: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

Americans overwhelmingly felt worse off, and Reagan won the election.

Now President Obama is asking us to answer the same question. Although he believes otherwise, he will not like the answer. Most Americans believe they are worse off today than we were four years ago, or even six years ago, when the president took office. This is true in almost every important area.

Healthcare remains a critical issue. In 2008, about 50 million Americans were un-insured. Today that number is about 43 million. So perhaps a small minority of two or three percent of Americans, at the lowest income level, feel somewhat better off. But the remaining 300 million of us have seen our premiums increase by more than $3,000 per year, after Obama said they would fall by about $2,500 per family, while our tax dollars are being used to pay the subsidies that the president brags about. In addition, many of us are not able to keep our doctor or the insurance plans we freely chose.

When the President entered office, the economy was in the midst of a severe recession. At that time, the expansive monetary policy was likely enough to pull us out while keeping the public debt at a manageable level. But Obama increased government spending by passing a near-trillion-dollar stimulus package that most economists agree did little to help the economy. Then he continued to deficit spend, adding about $6 trillion to the public debt, more than a 50 percent increase from the level when he entered office. And he continues to run annual deficits which are at least 40 percent larger than any other president.

Median annual household income has fallen by an inflation adjusted $2,100 in the past six years and wages have been stagnant, although, to be fair, wages were stagnating before he took office. Although about 5 million jobs have been added since 2008, most of those jobs are low paying, part-time or have gone to foreign born immigrants, many here illegally.

This recovery from the worst recession since 1981, has been painfully slow. Instead of the recovery seeing annual growth rates in the 4 or 5 percent range which is more typical after a severe recession, his policies have resulted in a growth rate of about 2 percent, which barely exceeds population growth.

The energy industry has been able to expand primarily because of new technologies that allow more efficient extraction. This could have led to an energy boom and really stimulated the economy. But the President will not allow the Keystone pipeline to be built, he prohibits drilling on federally owned land and he almost destroyed the coal industry through over regulation. In addition, he uses taxpayer dollars to fund alternative energy sources that are simply not economically ready to come to the market.

It is no wonder than recent polls show more than 40 percent of Americans strongly disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy and about two thirds of Americans think the economy is still headed in the wrong direction.

Perhaps where most Americans feel much worse off is on the issue of security. Many Americans simply do not feel as safe as they have in the past. Today many Americans are fearful of terrorists that the President assured us were not a problem. Al-Qaida is on the run and terrorism is not a threat, he often told us. Yet today we are at war with terrorists who have threatened to strike on American soil.

We fear the IRS. We fear big government is trying to control our lives. We fear that the government has intruded on our privacy. We fear government officials who either will not tell the truth or who refuse to answer questions.

I am not better off than I was when you took office Mr. President. And hundreds of millions of other Americans share that view.

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  • Tim Kern

    Yes, and of those presumably 7 million new recipients of health insurance (not health care — they already had that), how many are from the ranks of formerly-uninsured, and how many just signed up because it was free? And how many filed because of the criminal status of non-participants?

  • Matthew J. Geiger

    When Ronald Reagan asked the Country, “are you better off now than you were four years ago,” all he managed to do was to frame the economic issues of the 1980 election and future Presidential elections in terms of the sitting President’s record. That is without regard to economic factors he has no control over. In reality, the US economy is built over the course of several Presidencies and several decades by businesses/consumers/producers and employees/consumers who play by the rules of the game, i.e. the economic policies the US government sets and the business practices major businesses embrace.

    Yes, the Obama Administration has not overcome the failures of the George W. Bush Administration and its predecessors, but that does not mean the alternatives Republicans would push are the answer. Yes, the George W. Bush cannot be blamed for everything wrong that has
    happened since he left office nor can he be blamed for the failures the Clinton Administration set in motion.

    The blame game will never solve the economic problems of the country. It is not the people who need criticized; it is the policies they pursue. That said, criticism alone never solves a problem. What we need to do is find the faults of economic policies then move to address those failings, which will allow us to move beyond current thinking and discover better solutions.

  • Horse pucky… I have no idea the personal fiscal situation of the author or his circumstances.. That said I know a considerable number of people who are better off now, to use Reagan’s phrase. According to the BLS the unemployment rate for January 2009 was 7.8% and the economy was in freefall when President Obama entered office. It is now setting at 6.1%, the math suggests at first glance it does not help the Professor’s argument. GM is alive and the actual terrorist who masterminded the attack on us, dead. While you can differ on policy goals and disagree on principles, I’d suggest the author spend his time helping fellow CONservatives put together an actual working plan for governance, it may be more useful for those who share his political outlook.

    • D.b. Swanson

      Look dipwad… there are some 19 million people that have given up looking for a job because of the poor economy. And the administration is constantly cooking the books so the numbers always show some sort of improvement. THEY LIE. And while I’m at it, any God fearing patriotic American would never want to share Obama’s political outlook. His favorite books were written by Saul Alinsky and other notable Marxist icons, so no thank you. I want no part of his Communist political outlook.

  • Brian Harvill

    As a matter of fact I am doing better under Obama than under Bush but not as good as under Clinton. In fact the majority of people are doing better under Obama and could say so IF they are actually being honest rather than being swayed by the heavy handedness of the partisanship that is crippling the nation.

    Ask any poll and the evidence is clear. Congress is rated worse than the president and republicans in Congress being rated at the bottom of every poll. The repiblicans certainly have been loud in their complaining but when it comes to actually benefiting people, not so much. Rather than spend more time, or should I sat wasting more time, complaining about Obama, maybe the republicans could simply get to the business of governing. That means compromises and working WITH democrats instead of more stupid posturing.

    So stop the whining and start making a difference. That doesn’t mean finger pointing and blame games. The nation is doing well and that is THANKS to Obama’s policies. Time to start focusing on helping the process instead of trying to find eays of sabotaging Obama simply because he is black and democratic. This isn’t socialism or communism, nor is it totalitarianism like the repiblicans are trying to institute. Nor is it a theocracy or a corprotocrasy. Get to work and the prosperity that wall street has been having for the last 5 of 6 years can be felt by people as well.

  • Effie Trinket

    I think most Americans can agree that Obama is the real problem.