A story in the Christian Science Monitor today points out the standard of living for Americans has “fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the U.S. government began recording it five decades ago.” The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession – even though the recession ended in mid-2009.
This news comes at the same time the so-called Misery Index — which is the sum of the country’s inflation and unemployment rates —rose to 13.0 percent last month, a 28-year high. Which shouldn’t be confused with the report that the number of underemployed people rose for a third consecutive month in September. Almost 9.3 million Americans are now considered underemployed (defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as working part-time for economic reasons, such as unfavorable business conditions or seasonal declines in demand), up from just over 8 million in July. And a staggering number of Americans, almost 26 million, are either unemployed, marginally attached to the labor force, or involuntarily working part-time—a number experts say is unprecedented.
The president can go on all the bus tours he wants, set ablaze as many strawmen as he likes, and question Republican’s love of country to his heart’s content. He can pretend the GOP has not put forward a slew of alternatives to his proposals. He can describe the GOP’s economic plan in cartoonish ways, like saying they want to have “dirtier air, dirtier water, [and] less people with health insurance.” He can blame his problems on his predecessor, the Arab Spring, ATMs, earthquakes, tsunamis, and for that matter, the four seasons. He can even say, as he did to ABC’s Jake Tapper earlier this week, that “all” – not some, not many, not most, but “all” – “the choices we’ve made have been the right ones.”
But what Obama cannot deny is the data. He cannot deny he’s been president for almost three years now. He cannot deny by his own measurements and promises –claims he made, not the RNC – the economy is performing much more poorly than he said it would. And he cannot deny his own words. For example, near the beginning of his presidency, Obama told NBC’s Matt Lauer, “I will be held accountable. I’ve got four years… If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
He hasn’t gotten it done. In fact, in many respects, we’ve gone in reverse. And so increasingly, almost inexorably, it does look like a one-term proposition.