President Obama started using this phrase during the Democratic National Convention. You know, the Republicans and Mitt Romney want "to take us back to the last century." He has been since using it on the campaign trail on a regular basis, along with his "take two tax cuts and call me in the morning" joke. Nice of him to crack jokes in the face of increasing human economic misery under his watch.
Candidate Brad Schneider in the meantime has put out a press release and a few fund raising appeals stating that he stands firmly behind the President. No questions. No doubts. No regrets.
The day after the President's acceptance convention speech, the Labor Department released unemployment figures for the month of August. 96,000 new jobs were created and 380,000 individuals stopped looking for work. Three steps back for every step forward? The unemployment rate in the face of these numbers mysteriously declined from 8.3% to 8.1%. And President Obama was briefed on these numbers before he gave his big convention speech.
To paraphrase Bill Clinton, Democrats are clearly deficient in "arithmetic."
Here is some more "arithmetic" to consider:
The Illinois jobless numbers remain stubbornly higher than the national average. Parts of the 10th Congressional District, including North Chicago, Waukegan and other areas with higher concentrations of minority residents, show much higher unemployment and drop out numbers. The solution? To continue standing behind this President and his policies?
The national workforce participation rate in jobs has contracted to 63.5%, or to the lowest level since September of 1981. You know, the 1981 of the last century! (CNBC, 9/7/12).
Since Obama took office, the unemployment rate for youth 16-19 has increased from 20.7% to 23.8%. (Bureau of Labor Statistics). For 20-24 year olds, it increased from 12.4% to 13.5%. This while they carry an average $25,000 in student loan debts. Half of young college graduates are now either jobless or underemployed (Associated Press, 4/23/12), Job prospects for degree holders fell to the lowest level in more than a decade. Starting salary for a college graduate is $27,000, significantly less than it was five years ago (Wall Street Journal, 8/23/12).
24% of the 20-34 age group lived with their parents in 2009, compared to 17% in 1980, or in the last century (National Journal, 8/1/12). The leading driver of housing demand is now on a par with the 1940's according to a Harvard University study, due to more young adults living at home (Financial Times, 7/30/12). You know, the 1940's of the last century!
Seniors have also been heavily pounded. 55% of jobless seniors have been unemployed for more than 6 months, up from 23% four years earlier. This translates from 200,000 to 1.1 million seniors, (Reuters, 5/15/12). Those between 55-64 have seen a 9.7% decline in their income since 2009.
Even the left leaning Huffington Post noted that by every economic measure, blacks and hispanics are not better off than they were in 2008? Unemployment rates for African Americans increased from 12.7% to 14.1% under Obama's watch, and hit 16.7% in 2011, the highest level since 1984. Hispanic unemployment remains higher than the national average. Under Obama's watch it increased from 10% to 10.3%. Hispanics now make up the largest group of children living in poverty.
To retell last week's joke of The Daily Show, we are all stuck in an economic automobile driven by Democrats in a circle for the past three plus years. The Democrats claim this is proof that we are still getting somewhere. The illusion of movement works for them. It doesn't for the rest of us. Clint Eastwood was right with his empty chair symbolism.
With even gasoline prices soaring, it is time to stop the car and turn it around in another direction with a new driver.
Candidate Barak Obama in 2008 was very fond of asking: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" Now he and his cadre prefer to change the subject.
Well? Are we better off?
Be sure to ask that question when you see Mr. Schneider on the campaign trail.