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Four Years Ago

September 3rd, 2012

Astonishingly, Republicans are asking the question, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

Have they forgotten what the economy was like four years ago? Maybe they meant “five years ago” or something.

Sadly, I think they are depending on people having forgotten about the near-collapse Republicans brought us to; they need Americans to forget that Obama’s stimulus, however underpowered, still halted the horrific plunge that had us losing 800,000 jobs a month and brought us quickly back to positive territory. They instead rely on people simply remembering a vague time in the past when things were better, and that things aren’t so great now—and undoubtedly hope that people won’t think too hard about the specifics. This right-wing blogger, providing an apt example, asks the “four year” question and then shamelessly compares the economy now to the economy three years ago.

The fact that they can ask that question now and not be torn to pieces is hard, cold proof that Americans don’t know as much as they should, don’t remember as sharply as they could, and that the media, far from being “liberal” or “in the tank for Obama,” is in fact criminally derelict in its duty as envisioned by the founders—to ensure an informed electorate.

Otherwise, how could Republicans refer back to a time of economic near-collapse and ask Americans if they want to return to that, and not have the people, much less the press, fall on them in a wave of incredulous contempt?

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  1. Troy
    September 3rd, 2012 at 08:58 | #1


    is the story of the past 12 years ago. yes, I’ve posted this over & over but I don’t understand why it’s not commonly understood yet.

    Blue (left-scale) is monthly new jobs.

    Red (right-scale) is consumer debt take-on (year-on-year).

    This graph shows that through the mid-late 1990s the Clinton boom wasn’t particularly driven by consumer debt take-on, but after the dotcom recession, the Bush boom was entirely dependent on consumer debt take-on from 2004-2006 we were borrowing and spending $100B EACH MONTH, about $1000 per household per month on average.

    Note when the credit flow stopped the economy tanked completely.

    And note how hiring recovered in 2010 . . . zooming in to 2000-2012 and adding government spending (green):


    we see the stimulus’ $500B/yr turning things around. At $100,000 per job that would be 5 million jobs, but since the government stimulus is MUCH less powerful than the previous housing bubble stimulus, not much progress has been made.

    What is incredibly mind-blowing to me is that the Republican/conservative mindset is completely detached from reality. They really don’t have the first clue about anything, if one just judges their pronouncements and policy proposals.

    It’s all bullshit, all the way down.

    The Democrats aren’t a helluva lot any better, alas.

    The economy’s core problems are the $600B/yr trade deficit — that’s money leaving the middle class economy and not coming back as wages.

    Then there’s the $8500/capita health care cost, twice that of anywhere else. That too is money — well over $1T/year — being siphoned from the middle class to the already-wealthy.

    Housing rents are another trillion-plus being sucked out of the paycheck economy.

    Energy, $4000/yr per household for gasoline alone (1000 gallons per household).

    If you follow the money in this economy it is clear how it is flowing from the 99% to the 1%.

    Yet our national dialogue does not address this. By design, the rich understand they have to bullshit people instead.

  2. Troy
    September 3rd, 2012 at 09:10 | #2


    is another graph that blows my mind. After-tax corporate profits have TRIPLED since Clinton left.

    Obama said in June that “the private sector is doing fine”.

    Romney re-adopted this message, mostly, saying in August that “big business is doing fine”.

    The core fact is that the wealthy are doing fine. The system we have is structured to funnel trillions of dollars to them. That’s exactly how Romney made his millions, LOL.

    Maybe as only Nixon could go to China, only Romney can destroy what made him.

    I do get the sense that Obama has been scared of being tarred as a Marxist bomb thrower by adopting any sort of “pro-99%” rhetoric or policy, preferring in his first term to adopt Clinton’s center-right policy postures (eg. 2010’s B-S deficit commission).

  3. Troy
    September 3rd, 2012 at 16:11 | #3

    heh, in your Jobs Report post from 8 years ago, you say:

    “Bush & Co. have an answer for that last one, too–they’re still blaming Clinton. Sorry guys, but there’s only so far you can stretch that one.”

    I think it’s perfectly fair to blame Bush for the continued mess we’re in.

    As for the dotcom recession, I don’t fully understand what happened in the 1990s, but the world did change a lot.

    Gas was really cheap — I remember paying under $1 gallon in 1998 — and that helped a lot.

    The big change was Chinese imports and big-box retail. Living in Japan and only coming back every year or so it was easier for me to see the change in the 1990s.

    what was a $100B/yr trade deficit in the early 1990s became a $500B at the end of the 1990s. I think this was the core rot that set up the dotcom collapse as this deficit was pulling money out of our consumer economy.

    During the Bush Boom we just borrowed money to make up for our trade deficit, that was the “Global Saving Glut” that funded our housing bubble and mass consumption, 2002-2007.

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