Candidate Mitt Romney keeps focusing on the question, in a number of ads on TV, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” That is a very interesting question and one I think that has a number of different answers.
Do you think that Mitt Romney is better today than he was four years ago? He will not show us his tax returns, but my suspicion would be that his net worth today is significantly higher than it was four years ago. In light of the evidence that the gap between the poor and the middle class and the upper one percent continues to grow wider, my hunch would be that most of Mitt Romney’s friends are better off today than they were four years ago. So I would suspect that Mr. Romney would have to answer that question with a “Yes. He is better off.
The next level of response is that if you have a retirement program linked to the stock market and you did not change it, sell it or empty it, you are better off today than you were four years ago. The market has hit a five year high. Your retirement program, any pension program that has investments in the stock market that have been managed well or indexed to the market are better off and more secure than they were four years ago.
The next level is that there are millions now who have health insurance who did not have it four years ago. They are better off now than they were four years ago. Students who are now covered by their parents insurance longer. Pre-existing conditions have not prevented people from getting health coverage.There is a consumer protection division that is at work to protect all of us from fraud. There have been four million jobs added in the last four years. There had to be a major stopping of the job loss under Bush and the beginning of job growth and that has happened. Those four million people are better off than they were four years ago.
We are all better off today than we would have been under four more years of the Republican philosophy of trickle down economy. The academic economists who argue for Romney’s plan have all said that tax increase are going to have to happen to make his plan work. The tax increases are described as closing loop holes in the tax law that gives large benefits to various programs. But there will have to be increased revenue even in Romney’s plan for it to work. The “Supply Side Trickle Down” myth did not work under Reagan nor Bush. It added more to the deficit than any period in history since Eisenhower. Obama’s addition to the deficit is the smallest since Eisenhower. There is no telling how deep of a mess we would all be in if Obama had not been elected. We are all better off than we would have been. Romney’s question is an interesting question. Yeah, there are some real problems that have to be solved but they have to be solved together and that is the greatest challenge.