A Trick Question

The GOP is asking that old Reagan question, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”  From their perspective, it’s a rhetorical question that they answer for all of us in the negative.  But really, it’s a trick question.

A lot of people who were employed when the economy imploded four years ago have since lost their jobs and remain unemployed or under-employed.  A lot of people who had a nice house in the suburbs have since lost that house and are living in an apartment.  A lot of people have lost savings and pensions and health insurance.

But those losses became inevitable when the economy imploded during the 2008 campaign.  They may not have all happened yet when President Obama took office, but they were baked into the cake (or crap sandwich).  He didn’t cause those losses, and they could well have been worse.  We were damn close to another Depression, damn close.

Obama “won” an economy in free fall, with hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost each month and GDP declining sharply and scarily.  The economy has been producing, not losing, jobs, for several years now, and the modest change in GDP  is far from spectacular, but at least it is positive, not negative.

When Obama took over, we didn’t know where bottom was or how long it would take to get there.  We have hit bottom and are starting to come back up.  Americans are buying houses again, Americans are shopping and going to restaurants.

Just as President Obama didn’t cause the losses we are still grappling with, neither did Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan cause the widening gap in both wealth and income that has been the last thirty years, and especially in the last decade.  But their policies will widen that gap, not shrink it.

A vibrant middle class made this country great — economically, politically, and militarily.  If the middle class declines, so will the country.  They are in a symbiotic relationship.

The relevant question is, “Under which leader will the middle class be stronger four years from now?”  That’s not a trick question, and it’s not a tough one either.