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Huntley: Better off than four years ago? Absolutely — not

Updated: October 6, 2012 1:49PM

After a weekend of hemming and hawing and trying to duck the issue of whether Americans are better off now than four years ago, Democrats now boast the country is better off. “Absolutely,” declared Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama.

All right! Must be time for the Democratic National Convention to break out in a chorus of “Happy Days Are Here Again”!

Except that the American people don’t agree. About 52 percent think the country is in “worse condition” than in September 2008, reports a poll done for the Washington political newspaper The Hill. And 63 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, according to the Real Clear Politics average of five polls asking this question. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index finds Americans’ thinking on the economy has been trending downward since May and in August hit its low point for 2012. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index is at its lowest level since late 2011.

Obama danced around the issue when asked in a Colorado TV interview what grade he should get for his presidency. “Incomplete,” he said. Again, the American people have a more critical view. According to The Hill’s poll, 54 percent said Obama “does not deserve re-election based solely on his job performance.” Most polls show Obama’s job approval rating under 50 percent.

In defending her incredible “absolutely” assessment, Cutter and Democrats chose to focus of the panicky weeks in late 2008 when the economy was collapsing and, as she put it, “Does anyone want to go back to 2008?”

To say the least, that’s a tone-deaf view of a question on which a majority of Americans have a radically different answer than Cutter does. The issue is the nation’s health over four years. Democrats can argue things have improved since 2008. Unfortunately for them, that improvement is the weakest recovery in modern history and doesn’t match the past experience where the deeper the recession, the more robust the recovery.

Obama claims he created 4.5 million jobs. That still leaves the country with 3 million more Americans out of work than four years ago. Unemployment has been above 8 percent during Obama’s term. Worse, 58 percent of his new jobs were low-paying occupations, such as retail sales and food preparation, reports the National Employment Law Project. Sixty percent of the jobs lost after 2008 were in the mid-range occupations of manufacturing, construction and information, but they make up 22 percent of Obama’s job growth.

Welcome to the Obama economy.

New findings by the nonpartisan research firm Sentier Research show that since Obama took office, median household income has fallen $4,000. It broke down the drop to show that more than half of it came after the recovery started in June 2009. As the Wall Street Journal observed, for household incomes “the Obama recovery has been worse than the Bush recession.”

Welcome to the Obama economy.

More bad news came as the Democrats’ convention convened: The national debt hit $16 trillion — a third of it piled up on Obama’s watch. Obama is good at creating debt threatening hopes for future prosperity, not so good at creating good jobs. That’s a huge burden to pile on the shoulders of our children.

Welcome to the Obama economy.

Maybe it’s not the time for Democrats to break out in “Happy Days Are Here Again.”

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