Big government. Those two words are uttered with utter disdain by Mitt Romney and Republicans. But go back to the Fall of 2008, when the U.S. economy was on the verge of bone-chilling collapse, and it was big government that kept us from falling into the abyss.
Let's give credit all around. It was former president George W. Bush who pushed through the initial $25-billion round of the auto bailout and $428-billion in TARP funds for Wall Street. President Obama continued the aid, injecting $787 billion more through his economic stimulus and job creation programs; over a trillion in additional investments in banks, corporate debt and mortgage-backed securities purchases; and another $60-billion into Detroit (while Mitt Romney was busy writing op-eds entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt").
Trillions were injected by government into the economy at a time when both consumers and businesses were holding onto every nickel, while banks froze credit and borrowing, as the nation's fiscal engine was sputtering off a cliff.
Four years later, corporate America enjoys record productivity and profits, yet the unemployment rate remains near 8%...with an average of just 150,000 or so jobs created monthly. Businesses still aren't investing in the economy despite their swollen coffers, and consumer confidence and spending, as well as housing, while increasing, is nowhere near what it needs to be for the economy to fully recover. Think about what America's economy would look like today without that emergency relief from government?
But the fact is, all over the country steady economic improvement is evident. Ohio, for example, a critical battleground state and one of the hardest hit by financial crisis, has seen unemployment drop from a 2010 peak of 10.6% to 7.2%. Over 70,000 of the jobs created have been in the auto industry. And while Ohio's Gov. John Kasich proudly boasts of his state's turnaround, he and other governors with similar progress claim that neither Obama or his policies deserve any credit.
So let's get this straight: it's Obama's fault on a statewide level when the nationwide economy tanks, but when it recovers it's the individual states, and their respective governors, who are responsible for the growth. If that sounds like disingenuous political double-talk, it is.
With less than a month before the election, it's time for Obama to stop the nice-guy routine and start acting like a man who wants to keep his job, and in particular, because he deserves to. He must proudly embrace his policies and the tremendous impact they've had on the economic recovery and stop allowing Romney and Republicans from controlling the narrative and defining him as a reckless tax and spend liberal.
Here's what he needs to say when he's out on the stump:
"Are we better off today than we were four years ago? You bet we are! Do you remember how you felt in the Fall of 2008...when you feared for your job, your retirement savings dropped in half, and the value of your home sank 30%-40%? When you worried that your bank would collapse and with it your life's savings? Four years later there's been a swing of almost a million in terms of monthly jobs lost to jobs being created. We did that. There's over 4.5-million private sector new jobs created in 30 straight months. We did that. The auto industry is alive and thriving. We did that. There's record profits in corporate America. We did that. Your 401K, college and investment accounts have doubled. We did that. Your home value is increasing, and you're able to get credit again....which is why consumer confidence and spending is rising. We did that. And you know what else we did? We used government, your government, the government to which you pay taxes, to help this sick economy when no one else would. Ya know what America would look like today without your government helping you when you need it most? It would look like, well...it would look like President Romney. The choice is yours America..."
And it wouldn't hurt to punch this out with the passion, sincerity and clarity of Bill Clinton.