You are better off than you were four years ago

The question isn't whether things were better in 2008. They weren't. The question is whether Obama handled an unprecedented economic crisis competently or not

Paul Brandus

I've written before about President Obama's biggest first-term mistakes, and his top successes. Both need to be examined in the context of the economic catastrophe he inherited 44 months ago. But something else needs to be examined within this context, too: "Are you better off than four years ago?" — the question being constantly asked by Republicans over the last couple weeks.

The question — introduced into the political lexicon by Ronald Reagan in his successful 1980 campaign against Jimmy Carter — is entirely appropriate to ask of any incumbent. Thus: After (nearly) four tough years under President Barack Obama, are we better off? Republicans say the answer is a resounding no, that when Americans think about it they'll agree — and that Mitt Romney will become the 45th president of the United States.

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Aug. 2008-127,000
Sept. 2008-403,000
Oct. 2008-423,000
Nov. 2008-597,000
Dec. 2008-681,000
Jan. 2009-741,000
Feb. 2009-681,000
March 2009-652,000
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Paul Brandus

An award-winning member of the White House press corps, Paul Brandus founded (@WestWingReport) and provides reports for media outlets around the United States and overseas. His career spans network television, Wall Street, and several years as a foreign correspondent based in Moscow, where he covered the collapse of the Soviet Union for NBC Radio and the award-winning business and economics program Marketplace. He has traveled to 53 countries on five continents and has reported from, among other places, Iraq, Chechnya, China, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.