Are we better off today than when President Obama took office?

Yes, absolutely. Over 4.2 million jobs have been added since the official end of the recession in February, 2010, following a loss of 8.8 million jobs between 2007 and 2010. While this fact is positive news, it does not warrant rejoicing because many people are still out of work and suffering extreme hardship. Others are working at jobs paying less than they were making before the recession. Nonetheless, this is noteworthy progress, especially given the widespread economic troubles in Europe and slowdown in China that have depressed economies worldwide. And it’s easy to forget the financial precipice that America was on that could have led to a full-blown depression. Yes, the ARRA did prevent that fall, say what you will that it was too small or too large.

The administration should clearly delineate its commitment to accelerate this growth with a focus on the middle class, which has been under pressure for many years. A large, financially secure middle class generates the output of the economy, and in turn represents a huge market for the products and services that are produced. If there is no demand, giving extra money to the top one percent will only cause them to either save the money, or invest it in other parts of the world where the returns may be better. And by the way, this is not an indictment of the one percent – they are simply making prudent investment decisions, just as you and I would do.

As we have seen all too clearly in recent days, a hurricane or tornado can destroy a town in minutes. But it takes weeks, months or years to rebuild, even with extraordinary assistance from governments, relief organizations, regional utility companies and community organizations. Most Americans realize that this recession was the most severe since the Great Depression, and most understand that recovery is not a magical, instantaneous event.

One more thing: Democrats should not mention George Bush again during this campaign. The policies of the past eight years that contributed to the Great Recession can be best described as “Republican” policies; George Bush was not the only contributor to the current economic conditions. The Republican platform for 2012 represents a more extreme version of the same vision. Public beware.

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