The Obama campaign has a new ad out seeking to address one of the GOP's chief questions to voters: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"
The ad is, of course, loaded with typical Obama class-warfare tactics and blame-everyone-but-me shenanigans. It also cites the often-repeated "thirty months of private-sector job growth, creating 4.6 million new jobs" claim, one that Peter Suderman reminds us was laid out by Obama in a June speech. Suderman adds, "And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy did indeed add 4 million private sector payrolls in the previous 27 months. That takes us from March 2010 to May 2012. But why start the count there? Why not count all the way back to the beginning of Obama’s presidency? Probably because if you did that, you’d also have to factor in the massive job losses that occurred in the first part of Obama’s term. It’s a highly convenient way to count."
The larger theme of the Obama ad is "We're not there yet, but the real question is 'Whose plan is better for you?'" So, I thought I would offer a quick reminder of where Obama's "plan" has gotten us thus far:
1) The unemployment rate was 7.8% when Obama took office. It is now 8.1%. We are in our 43rd consecutive month of over 8% unemployment. James Pethokoukis notes that "If the labor force participation rate was the same as when Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate would be 11.2%." In fact, the labor force participation rate has dropped to its lowest level in thirty-one years.
2) In July, CNSNews.com reminded us that "At the close of business on Jan. 20, 2009, according to the U.S. Treasury, the total debt of the federal government was $10,626,877,048,913.08. By the close of business on July 10, 2012, that debt had climbed to $15,885,854,755,351.47—an increase of $5,258,977,706,438.39." The national debt is now over $16 trillion. Recall that in 2008, Barack Obama rebuked President Bush for adding "$4 trillion by his lonesome."
3) Food-stamp enrollment has soared to a record 46.7 million Americans. That's up from 32 million Americans when Barack Obama took office.
4) Bloomberg.com points out that "Median household income dropped 1.5 percent last year to $50,054 -- the lowest level since 1995 when adjusted for inflation -- while the proportion of Americans living in poverty was 15 percent, little changed from 2010. The 46.2 million people in poverty remained at the highest number in the 53 years since the Census Bureau has been collecting that statistic."
5) How about energy policy? Heritage cites that "oil production on federal lands has decreased between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011 by 11 percent. Natural gas production has decreased by 6 percent in the same one-year span. It is down nearly 27 percent from fiscal 2009...On his watch, Salazar made the controversial decision to cancel 77 leases in Utah after they had already been sold at an auction in December 2008." And those oil and gas production increases Obama likes to take credit for--those would be on private and state-owned land.
Bottom line: We are not better off than we were four years ago. Yes, President Obama inherited a bad economic situation. But his "plan" made things worse, not better. He can't blame Republican "obstructionists" when he had a Democrat majority in Congress for his first two years.
And Mr. President, if you were going to use the slogan "Forward," you should've probably had a record of achievement to back that up. Because unlike what happened with "Hope" and "Change" in 2008, people are asking questions this time around. And your answers--much like your record--aren't cutting it.
This column also appeared on Amac.us.