Is the economy better than four years ago? As the Republican national convention gets underway today in Florida, the economy (and not the uterus) should be the issue the GOP pushes to the forefront. So, the question weighing on my mind is how are my finances today versus four years ago? How do I feel about my future now versus four years ago?
I don’t intend on laying out my net worth today versus four years ago for all to see. And, because of some significant changes in my life over the last four years, my financial picture today versus four years ago isn’t apples to apples. Four years ago, as Republicans descended upon St. Paul to nominate John McCain, I was childless and was working for someone. Today, I have two children and am self-employed. So, if we’re looking at disposable income, lifestyle, and stress level—I was doing much better in August 2008.
That said, I feel much more confident now than I did three years and 11 months ago.
In September 2008, my wife and I left for California and our “babymoon.” My wife was seven months pregnant as we traveled to Santa Barbara and Dana Point for eleven days. Two months before our trip we sold our first place, in three weeks for a nice profit (remember those days?!) and were under contract on our current place. Then, as we relaxed at a resort in Dana Point, everything hit the fan.
Lehman Brothers failed. AIG required bailing out. As I was on vacation I watched our economic system collapse before our very eyes. People were asking whether the American economy would live to see another day—with pundits and newscasters providing the public with serious and nervous looks, that looked like this is really serious, as opposed to all previous stories we sold to you as being serious. It was so bad John McCain suspended his campaign to go to Washington to attempt to broker a bipartisan agreement on government intervention to fix the mess.
I made calls to my mortgage broker from California on our loan that was supposed to close in October: Is the loan OK? “Yes” she attempted to reassure, as it appeared the sky was falling.
The sky was falling. My mortgage broker lied to me while we were away, because she didn’t want to ruin our vacation. The loan, like many things including consumer confidence and the holdings in my 401(k), went *poof* while we were on vacation.
It all ended well—we still closed on our home—but it did require more work to get another loan. And the value of our home peaked when we signed the sales contract, long before we ever took possession.
So when I think about whether the economy is doing better now than four years ago, it is pretty easy for me to remember September 2008. That is the economy President Obama was handed in January 2009. When President Obama was sworn into office, banks were still regularly collapsing; companies and businesses were closing; people were losing jobs; people were defaulting on mortgages; people in retirement had to find work; people near retirement had to get used to the idea that they would have to remain employed. Detroit and the American automobile industry almost went bankrupt—which Republicans favored. It was Mitt Romney that said: “Let Detroit go bankrupt.”
Today’s economy is certainly not robust, but it is expanding. Granted, the expansion is at a snail’s pace, but the economy is in a better place than it was in September 2008. Personally, I have two children and run a small business. It’s challenging, but I’m happy and fortunate. I do wish Washington would care more about helping everyday Americans—which will require Democrats and Republicans working together, rather than working to advance the agenda of their political parties.
It’s time for Barack Obama to take ownership of this economy. He can’t blame the economic uncertainty we all feel in August 2012 on George W. Bush. But, the GOP should be honest about where our economy is. Relative to the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, August 2012, is much better.
And if Barack Obama is reelected in November— the GOP needs to focus on the economy rather than focusing on making Barack Obama a one term president. Let’s get America working again—and rather than allowing our economy to fester so it had a talking point against Obama, the GOP needs to step up and be a part of the solution.