The Reagan Test Are We Better Off Than Two Years Ago Indisputably Yes

Bill Scher

Yesterday, the White House released another sharp “White House Whiteboard” video featuring economic advisor Austan Goolsbee clearly explaining how the Recovery Act and additional legislation successfully blunted the recession and put us back on the path of positive job growth.

It’s another reminder that we’ve come a long way from the depths of the recession and the financial crisis two years ago — the culmination of the Bush Era.

Ronald Reagan famously called the nation’s voters to ask themselves this question before heading to the ballot box in November 1980: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

Most everyone is frustrated with the state of the economy today.

But compared to two years ago? It’s not even a contest.

Two years ago, we were on the verge of a financial market implosion and worldwide economic collapse. Since then, the financial markets and the global economy have stabilized.

During President Bush’s final month in office, we lost 779,000 jobs, more jobs in a month than any month in six decades.

Today, we’re experiencing positive job growth again. Not enough growth to quickly make up for the millions of jobs lost in the recession. But after the Recovery Act was passed, the job trajectory reversed, and now we’re headed in the right direction.

Similarly, while the economy shrunk in size at an annual rate of more than 6% at the end of 2008, we’ve experienced four consecutive quarters of positive growth.

Furthermore, after years on inaction on health care that led to millions more uninsured and skyrocketing premiums, we’ve begun the reforms that will massively expand coverage and control costs.

After years of deregulating the financial markets, which created the crisis , we’ve begun the process of implementing new rules and reining in reckless behavior.

After years of conservatives in power denying climate change and letting other nations take the lead in creating clean energy jobs, we’ve begun investing in 21st century infrastructure.

No one doubts that serious economic problems remain. But no one can seriously argue we’re worse off than we were in 2008.

We’ve done something right in the last two years. The challenge in this election is how do we do more of it.

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