published Monday, October 17th, 2011

Reagan, Carter, Obama and ...?

Ronald Reagan famously urged voters during his 1980 campaign against then-President Jimmy Carter to ask themselves: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago?"

Those simple, straightforward questions captured the attention of the American people.

And judging from Reagan's landslide victory in the election, it is apparent that many Americans realized they were not better off under Carter's leadership.

That brings us to 2011, just a little over a year from the next presidential election.

President Barack Obama is virtually certain to be the Democrat candidate again, and he will be challenged by one of several current GOP contenders. The challenger may be former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, or perhaps Texas Gov. Rick Perry or another of the Republican hopefuls. That has yet to be determined by the primaries and caucuses.

But whoever the GOP nominee turns out to be, he will be able to ask the same questions that Reagan asked more than 30 years ago. So let's consider them one by one:

• "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

Certainly many people will debate that point. The U.S. economy entered a recession at the very end of 2007 -- about four years ago. But Obama himself recently acknowledged that the economy is now in a recession, too. Plus there have been millions of home foreclosures during Obama's time in office, and 70 percent more Americans use food stamps today than used them four years ago. Do you feel better off?

• "Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago?"

Decide for yourself: In recent months, "food and gas prices spiked, and those higher costs forced people to cut back on discretionary items, such as vacations, appliances and computers," The Associated Press noted. Between high prices and stagnant wages, we doubt most Americans find it easier to make purchases these days.

• "Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago?"

On this question, America is surely worse off under Obama. Unemployment was 4.7 percent in September 2007. But in September 2011, it was 9.1 percent. And it has been well above 8 percent for almost the entirety of the Obama administration. Worse still, millions of Americans have been unemployed long term, and unemployment benefits have had to be extended repeatedly.

It is obvious that Americans in 2011 are not better off overall than they were four years ago.

With Election Day not too far off, the president's window of opportunity for proposing policies that could begin to turn things around in time to help him in 2012 is closing fast.

But he appears unlikely to reverse his course of big spending and heavy borrowing.

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nucanuck said...

Obama, like us, is along for the ride. This great developed world debt tsunami demands to be delt with and the solutions will not make us better off during the resolution phase. The banking problems are now too big for governments to solve. Bank failures and restructurings are coming AFTER we have done everything possible to delay the inevitable.

This weekend Europe will announce their plan to save the EU and their banks. The plan will be for more debt and loan garantees that will lead to credit downgrades and a worse situation down the road. The US is following the same path and neither political party will vary much from the European non-solution.

Look for four more years of economic deterioration.

October 17, 2011 at 10:35 a.m.
chet123 said...

How can anyone with half a brain compare this moment in history wil carter, or reagan......what kind of nuckle-head question is that....when this administration was dumped with trillions of dollars debt.....are you serious....maybe it more fitting to compare the great depression,,,roosevelt didnt turn the economy around in 2 to 3 years.....but it took more like 8 to 10 years....so what kind of trick question is this????? mmmmmmmm??? do you think people are that stupid.....

October 17, 2011 at 12:46 p.m.
chet123 said...

also....if you want to talk about price of gas.....please do your homework and use what little brain you have.....notice the price of high gas co-incide with republican congress....gop refuse to investigate high gas prices and agrue against anyone interfering with the oil company(because they are bank-roll by big oil..ie koch brothers)....how dumb can one be!!!!

October 17, 2011 at 12:53 p.m.
rolando said...

Alright. It has happened again...what did the lefties do with the real nucanuck? They must have ripped off chet's CAPs key....[say that quickly 3 times...]

Either that or he has changed over the last three years...and finally realized where The Obama and the Demo Senate was taking us. But better late than never.

October 17, 2011 at 1:32 p.m.
nucanuck said...

rolando,

I still believe that a social democracy is the best avenue, I just think we have to tax ourselves enough to pay for whatever we spend. When we cut taxes and not spending, we set our own trap. Now we are in that trap so deep that only unwanted austerity and time will set us free.

Obama is neither the problem nor the solution, but neither will his successor make much difference. We have to hit bottom before we will do what needs to be done. My guess is 2016-17. We shall see.

October 17, 2011 at 2:18 p.m.
Livn4life said...

What is most funny or not, is the continual finger pointing from both sides while NEITHER has shown any real willingness to do what is needed. So yeah NU we continue on until the bottom rises up and smacks us. Then who will be to blame?

October 17, 2011 at 8:26 p.m.
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