The Romney-Ryan campaign is now explicitly comparing President Obama to former President Carter. Paul Ryan yesterday: “You see, the president has no record to run on. In fact, every president since the Great Depression who asked Americans to send them into a second term could say that you are better off today than you were four years ago, except for Jimmy Carter and for President Barack Obama.”
So are Americans better off today than they were when Obama took office in 2009 — or not?
The superficial answer is “Yes, Americans are better off.” In January 2009, America was in a recession; today, the economy is slowly growing. In January 2009, America was losing jobs; today, it is adding them.
But that is setting the bar pretty low and framing the question absurdly narrowly. It also completely ignores the historically-anemic nature of the current economic recovery.
I would ask the question in a different way: “Is America better positioned to compete, prosper, and innovate today than it was four years ago?”
And the answer to that question is, unfortunately, a decisive “No, America is not better off.”