Unemployment is stuck above 8% and has been at that level for 42 straight months, the longest period since the Great Depression. 100 million Americans are receiving some sort of government assistance, while only 139 million are working. There are 46 million Americans receiving food stamps in 2012 versus just 17 million in 2000.
In America 2012, more and more people are leaving the workforce altogether. While President Obama cites growth in private sector jobs, there are fewer people working today than when he took office in January of 2009.
The President’s plan to increase government spending to combat the problem clearly did not work as advertised. After an expensive stimulus package and four years of trillion dollar plus budget deficits, our country’s economic problems have only intensified. The result is that the national debt is approaching $16 trillion or $140,000 per taxpayer.
With $45 trillion more in unfunded entitlement liabilities, most Americans do not grasp the magnitude of our economic problems. However, they do understand their own financial situation, which is clearly not good.
Most Americans sense the nation is in the midst of a continued recession, instead of a weak recovery. Overall economic growth is weak, wages are stagnant, housing prices have not recovered and gasoline prices are averaging $3.73 per gallon, more than double the figure at the start of the Obama administration.
In this horrible economic environment, the presidential candidates are trying to woo voters with their messages. They are also claiming the other party caused the problem. President Obama is still blaming former President George W. Bush, while Mitt Romney is blaming the current administration
On November 6, voters will decide who caused these economic woes. If a majority of voters continue to blame Bush for the economic misery, they will be more likely to give Barack Obama another four years to solve the problem. If voters blame President Obama for making a bad situation worse, they will likely give Mitt Romney a chance to turn it around.
In the 1980 presidential election, GOP candidate Ronald Reagan asked the question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Americans answered resoundingly “no” and gave Reagan an overwhelming victory.
In this election, Americans will once again answer “no” but it is not clear that Romney will win a big victory, because of the “Bush factor.”
The former President has been completely vilified by the media and the Democrats. He has refused to defend his policies and has retreated to Texas. In fact, he will bypass the Republican National Convention in Tampa and not even address the delegates. This implies he is not only unwanted, but also at least partially responsible for the economic problems of today.
This scenario makes the election a tough one to call. Most polls show a dead heat and the winner will be the candidate who can make the best argument to the American people. Romney has a slight financial edge, but Obama has the advantage of the news media on his side.
As more people become dependent on government assistance, they tend to support Obama who is seen as the candidate most likely to continue to increase entitlement programs. By choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has staked the position that the entitlement programs need to be reformed to ensure their future survival.
At least voters will have a very clear choice in November. There is a world of difference between the messages of the Obama-Biden ticket versus the Romney-Ryan ticket. The winner will be determined by not only who a majority of Americans trust with the future of this nation, but also who they blame for the mess we are now facing.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected]
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