As the Democratic Convention is in full gear following the Republican drive last week, the question everyone is posing is the following: “Is the nation better off than it was four years ago and are individual Americans better or worse off?”
As is true of most issues, the answer is not clear cut, but rather has aspects of “yes” and “no”. The nation is in some ways better off than four years ago when the financial markets appeared on the brink of collapse. Overall national output is up, exports are at a record high, and stock prices have recovered significantly. However, we have 3 million fewer jobs and $5 trillion more in national debt.
Individuals would appear to be generally worse off. Adjusted for taxes and inflation, people have less income than four years ago and the jobless rate has climbed from 6% to over 8%. Home prices are still also generally 12% to 15% below their levels of four years ago.
Can we do better and who can best lead that effort? What role can and should government play? That is what voters will decide in November.