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Gov. Romney – I’m better off and so is the country

For a number of days now, I’ve been hearing people talk about whether they’re better off than four years ago. At first I wasn’t sure what started this Reaganesque conversation. Then I learned it was from Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech:

That is why every president since the Great Depression who came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction: “you are better off today than you were four years ago.”
Except Jimmy Carter. And except this president.

[Daniel – He forgot President George HW Bush aka Bush Senior, who was President during a recession and lost his bid for a second term.]

This president can ask us to be patient.

This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault.

This president can tell us that the next four years he’ll get it right.

But this president cannot tell us that YOU are better off today than when he took office.

I could spend a whole blog post questions the odd conditions that Romney placed on “Are you better off than four years ago?” Why should we start with the Great Depression? Why would only second termers ask this question? If your wealth rose but your sons were killed in Vietnam, were you really better off? Is an endless upward economic path a realistic expectation for any country? And so on. But instead I choose to answer the Governor’s question.

For my wife and I, we are better off. We’re both gainfully employed, able to fund our various hobbies and have full health coverage. For the first time in two decades, our wages slightly outpaced inflation. We have more savings now than we did four years ago.

In the country as a whole, children can no longer be denied health insurance for preexisting conditions. They can stay on their parents insurance until age 26, allowing them more savings for an independent life.

But these are only the only the material gains and I strongly believe that cannot be the only measure. I feel the country is better off because:

  • We finally got out of the endless stalemate that was Iraq.
  • We finally have a plan in place to leave Afghanistan, the other quagmire. It’s taking us longer than the Soviets, but that’s the price of a democracy.
  • Gays and Lesbians can serve openly in our armed forces, increasing the pool of talent and ending the waste of resources in ending don’t ask don’t tell.
  • We stopped torture as an official policy.
  • We have placed some modest regulations on the banks who brought us the 2008 meltdown. I don’t think there enough, but there is more protection than there was in 2008.

Romney’s reference to the 1980 campaign as relevant to today is part of why I’d never vote for him. The former governor is stuck looking backwards. His economic plans are identical to what George W. Bush offered us. Plans that raised the debt and contributed to the 2008 crash. His foreign policy of obsessing on Russia is pure 1980s, except where he has Bush’s failed yet unrepentant foreign policy team. I haven’t seen anything in his campaign that appears to address today’s problems. Even if I thought I was worse off than I was four years ago, I wouldn’t opt for the same failed policies drove us to the brink of economic and moral bankruptcy.

Let’s go forward. Vote to re-elect President Obama. We can fix his shortcomings after the election.

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7 Responses

  1. Agreed. We are much better off too, as are our adult children and their families…all employed and making their house payments on time with some extra left over for fun. It wasn’t very much fun in 2008 as we watched our retirement savings disappear. That is all back and growing again, and we have enough savings to do some major home improvements too, thus aiding our local economy.

  2. Today I found a source for Reagan’s full quote:

    “Are you better off than you were four years ago. Is it easier 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? Is America respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we are as strong as we were four years ago?”

    NBC Today Show 10/28/1980
    http://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/flatview?cuecard=4513

    I find it interesting that Governor Romney only addressed the economic factors when phrasing his comments.

  3. Agreed–Paul Ryan and Willard Romney look at life solely from the perspective of business and making money. Let’s not forget that Paul Ryan made everyone in his office read Ayn Rand. Her parents owned a chemistry factor and the family had to flee from the Bolsheviks. When she came to the US, she was a screen writer for movies–not exactly a high powered intellectual. Certainly, she hated ‘socialism’ because she identified it with the Communist Government of the 1920’s in the Soviet Union. I don’t see Paul Ryan as intelligent and a deep thinker.

  4. Hi Carol, While I think that it’s fair game to document the influence of Ayn Rand on Paul Ryan and insist he explain how her ideas influence his policy, I don’t think attacking the intelligence of either is appropriate here.

    I also don’t think that being a screenwriter excludes one from being a deep thinker – Rod Serling, Joss Whedon and J. Michael Straczynski immediately come to mind. I’m positive there are others.

    I would like to see Ryan answer the question whether he supports the demand of unconditional surrender that John Galt makes in his speech in Atlas Shrugged:

    “When the looters’ state collapses, deprived of the best of its slaves, when it falls to a level of impotent chaos, like the mystic-ridden nations of the Orient, and dissolves into starving robber gangs fighting to rob one another-when the advocates of the morality of sacrifice perish with their final ideal-then and on that day we will return.

    “We will open the gates of our city to those who deserve to enter, a city of smokestacks, pipe lines, orchards, markets and inviolate homes. We will act as the rallying center for such hidden outposts as you’ll build. With the sign of the dollar as our symbol-the sign of free trade and free minds-we will move to reclaim this country once more from the impotent savages who never discovered its nature, its meaning, its splendor. Those who choose to join us, will join us; those who don’t, will not have the power to stop us; hordes of savages have never been an obstacle to men who carried the banner of the mind.

    This can be boiled down to – “our way or the highway.” Although I have no idea why Galt thinks the “sign of the dollar” would mean anything after the collapse of the country that backed the currency.

  5. Daniel–I don’t understand why you are telling me that it is not fair to attack the intelligence of Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan did make everyone in his office read Ayn Rand, according to the ‘New Yorker’ article by Ryan Lizza this summer. I remember that Rand was very popular in the 60’s and am very surprised that anyone would admire her today. There are actually Ayn Rand society members on the Square in Madison during the Farmer’s Market selling her books. I think this is a sad state of affairs. Sorry to write chemical factor when I meant factory.

  6. Hi Carol – I think it is totally fair to make Paul Ryan own up to his strong Ayn Rand influence. He should be quoted specific parts of John Galt’s speech and questioned about what he agrees and disagrees with.

    I’m completely at piece with criticizing the actions or the beliefs of a specific candidate. Attacking intelligence is like saying “You’re so stupid.” I’d rather see things like “Ryan’s budget plan cuts taxes faster than spending. The deficit will balloon while people suffer. That isn’t good for America.” This explains why I’m opposed to Paul Ryan’s plan in a way that “Only a mean-spirited moron could have come up with a plan this full of stupid” does not.

    The only other problem I had with your critique of Ayn Rand was that you appeared to say that her being a screenwriter was proof she was no intellectual. One doesn’t have anything to do with the other. I’m not saying she was an intellectual giant. I’m only saying that being a screenwriter doesn’t say anything about intelligence one way or the other.

  7. The best safety net is a job, and if you can’t get that, it’s the taxes from someone who does have a job. Obama doesn’t get it.

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