- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 4, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The weakening, job-starved Obama economy looms over the Democratic National Convention this week, casting a pall of gloom over a party paralyzed by its far-left ideology.

With polls showing that 72 percent of voters say President Obama’s handling of the economy will be a “major factor” in their vote this November, Democrats are trying every trick they can think of to persuade voters that things really are better than they were under the George W. Bush administration.

They chose to sell this flim-flam argument in Charlotte, N.C., a state where the unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, the fifth-highest in the nation. North Carolinians have been as patient as Job, but now they know they’ve been had. Recent polls show Republican Mitt Romney has the edge there.

Republican leaders, including Mr. Romney’s running-mate, Paul Ryan, have stormed into the state, armed with one simple question for the voters and for the country: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

Mr. Obama is going to spin a lot of dubious reasoning in the next two months, but Mr. Ryan said Monday that the president can’t tell us with a straight face that we’re better off now.

At least one Democrat seems to agree.

Asked that question on “CBS Sunday,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley replied, “No, but that’s not the question of this election.”

Tell that to the voters who say things are much worse, especially for 23 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or so discouraged they have stopped looking for work and are no longer counted as jobless.

In November 2008, the national unemployment rate was 6.8 percent. Now it’s at 8.3 percent. It has been more than 8 percent for 43 months and is expected to remain there for the rest of Mr. Obama’s term, and well into 2013 and beyond if he is re-elected.

There are many other ways to measure whether we’re better off now than we were four years ago. Here are a few comparisons between November 2008 and now:

Annual budget deficit: Then: $459 billion. Now: $1.2 trillion.

Federal debt: Then: $10 trillion. Now: $16 trillion.

Federal debt as a percentage of our total economic output: Then: 69.7 percent. Now: 104.8 percent.

Poverty rate: Then: 13 percent. Now: 15 percent.

Food-stamp recipients: Then: 30.9 million. Now: 44.7 million.

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