Romney asked a question at the RNC that addresses a number of issues in one. He asked his listeners if we were better off four years ago.
In the words of Cenk Uygur: Of course!
As the liberal comedian Bill Maher said after Mitt Romney's speech:
4 yrs ago under Bush we were losing 750,000 jobs a month! I was putting $ in my mattress! Better off than 4 yrs ago? Not a debate!
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) August 31, 2012
We might not be on the verge of falling into worldwide anarchy with a looming banking collapse, but things are overall better.
Politifact put together a list of statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and similar websites to create a comprehensive story of the American economy then vs. now.
On the positive side of the economy, corporate profits are at $1.9 trillion (as of 2011), up from $1.2 trillion in 2008. Overall inflation is down to 2.9 percent from 4.3 in 2008. Median home sale prices are slightly up as well as yearly GDP, but the job situation is still worrisome.
Unemployment is still at a staggering 8.2 percent. Black unemployment is at 13.6 percent and the median weeks that people have been unemployed is 20.1. Private sector jobs are down to 111 million. That number was 115.6 million in 2008. Probably the most telling number is consumer confidence which is at 64.9 percent compared to 87.3 in 2008. People aren't confident in the economy and as a result aren't purchasing products to support the private industry.
You've got to hand it to Rep. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) for his candidness back when Obama was first elected, though. He said the number one priority of his Congress was to deny president Obama a second term. Not many talk about how Obama has been stonewalled by a Tea Party congress not familiar with how the political arena works. This Congress has an abysmal approval rating and it's safe to say it's related to how unwilling they have been to work with the president on anything.
Politics is the art of compromise. In this game you win some and you lose some. If a compromise is met and everyone is a little bit happy and a little bit upset, then that probably means that progress was made.
Stonewalling Obama and moderates within Congress and keeping the recovery pace at a slow speed benefits the Tea Party and those within the GOP in more ways than one. Not only does it allow them keep the focus away from social issues, but it gives them an advantage this election cycle because their area of expertise is money and business.
It's not a coincidence that the Tea Party rose to prominence during one of the worst recessions we've seen in years. They've been patiently waiting for an opportunity like this.
Make no mistake, an economic recession is what the Republican (and Democratic) establishment desires because now their priority remains just that: the economy. Not only does this ring true, but in a recession, the politicians will do just fine. Most of the members of Congress are millionaires and have six figure salaries. They can afford to take their time.
When we're in a recession, the GOP is allowed to focus on their bread and butter. This way social issues like women's issues, equal opportunity, immigration, the environment, the prison industrial complex, education, poverty, wages, the invisible wars, student loan debt and the housing crisis become an afterthought. And after tracking the RNC for four days, none of these issues were touched upon. I don't expect to here anything about these issues from the Democrats either.
Arianna Huffington discusses my same sentiment in her post about the Shadow Conventions, an idea Huffington came up with in order to spark "a national conversation on three issues that neither party is seriously addressing: the corrupting influence of money on our politics, the persistence of poverty in America, and the disastrous war on drugs."
"[...]after all, President Obama hasn't devoted even one speech to the subject of poverty since he moved into the White House., President Obama hasn't devoted even one speech to the subject of poverty since he moved into the White House."
Listening to local conservatives on the radio stations in D.C., hosts have been talking about this same idea. The host said that he didn't care about social issues at the RNC. He had no interest in anything that doesn't relate to how to fix the economy.
It's important that we do what we can to fix this economy quickly because those within the establishment want to use the recession as an excuse to ignore social issues and treat this country like a company as Mitt Romney famously said.