Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

March 20, 2012

WE THE PEOPLE: Are you better off now?

CROSSVILLE — Are you better off now than you were four (two) years ago? In this campaign season, at least one GOP candidate reiterated that question originally posed by Ronald Reagan, the “economic wonder” president of the 1980s. According to some leading Republicans and economic experts, the answer is “YES!”

In January, responding to the State of the Union address, Republican Mitch Daniels said that we are all “soon-to-haves.” The many of us who are not wealthy used to be “have nots.” Now, Daniels assures us, we will be rich soon. How wonderful! Don’t those Republican spokespersons have a way with words?

How will that happen? Maybe you are included in the will of an unknown billionaire Great Aunt. Perhaps you’ll have a winning lottery ticket (18 million to one against you, at best), or an about-to-explode financial investment. If so, you MIGHT be rich tomorrow! No wonder we don’t want to tax the super-wealthy. We will soon be among them, at least according to Mitch.

Get real! If you work in the hospitality or health care or service or manufacturing industry, or own a small business, your chances of joining the Fat Cat Club are very slim. A college education might help, although Republican Santorum thinks that is a snobbish attitude. (By the way, he has three college degrees.)

But, even Santorum and Romney have decided that you are better off now than you were. Both of them are abandoning the economic argument and shifting to foreign policy issues to defeat our President (despite his offing both Bin Laden and Kaddafi). Apparently the front–running GOP candidates are at odds with Speaker Boehner, who is repeatedly alleging that our President’s economic policies have failed.

Boehner is wrong, of course. A recent survey of well-respected economists indicates that the nation’s economy is improving faster than expected. Many measures support this fact. Consider a lower unemployment rate, more job creation, higher consumer spending and confidence, more output in the manufacturing industries, stabilizing housing prices and better retail sales. A growing economy provides opportunities for all.

In fact, President Obama’s economic policies have created a record job growth surpassing Ronald Reagan’s (the guy who first posed the question — are you better off?) Nearly two full years after Reagan took office, the unemployment rate had soared to 10.5%, higher than it ever has been since President Obama was elected.

Furthermore, Reagan enjoyed a cooperative Democratic Congress. Republicans elected in 2010 have screamed a dinning “NO” to any and all administration policies. Current GOP congressional members even refused to vote for helpful measures they once proposed.

Thankfully, President Obama continues to fight for average Americans, traveling the country promoting the jobs bill. If this is “campaigning,” as the GOP charges, then keep it up. The Republicans, feeling pressure from us who “don’t’ have and may never have” were forced to relent.

It’s comforting, if not realistic, to believe that you are a “soon to have.” But vote with your head, not your heart. The current administration’s policies are working and deserve support. The alternative brings us GOP policies favoring the rich, ensuring that we “have nots” will never be "better off," either now or anytime soon.

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