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We are better off than we were four years ago

By Jonathan Kaulay
On November 1, 2012

  • President Barack Obama during the first Presidential Debate. Salon

A question Mitt Romney loves to tell us to ask ourselves is "are we better off than we were four years ago?"
Romney asks this question under the prevailing notion the answer will be no, but when you use facts and logic you will see the answer is yes, we are better off than we were four years ago.
Admittedly the economy is in rough shape, but it would be even worse if it were not for the policies of Barack Obama.  When George W. Bush took office, unemployment was at around 4 percent.  When he left office and handed the reigns over to Obama, it was at 7.8 percent and quickly rising.   

It got up to 10 percent in 2009. Then the policies created by Obama began to push the unemployment rate back down.  It is now below 8 percent.  

Do you think if Republicans had inherited the White House and there was no bailout for the auto industry, which saved more than a million jobs, things would be better?  
Do you think if we did not pass the stimulus plan, which helped place nearly 4 million people in jobs according to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, things would be better?
It is no coincidence the stimulus package was passed in early 2009 and the unemployment rate rise halted and began to drop in June.
Another thing Republicans like to say is during Obama's time in office the deficit has doubled, which is not true.  The annual deficit in 2009 was $1.19 trillion.  It is estimated at the end of 2012 the annual deficit will be at $1.09 trillion. Our annual deficit has actually gone down under Obama.  
Obama lowered the deficit in spite of including the two wars in the budget.  Bush had the wars listed as "emergency spending measures" and were not included in his budget.  Obama decided it would be smart to actually try to pay for the wars at some point, and yet Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility.
Obama's foreign policy can also be touted as a success.  Obama has ended two wars, made the call to kill the man responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks and strategically and wisely ensured the United States did not get dragged into another conflict, despite incredible turmoil in Arab and Middle Eastern countries.  
Obama has recently gotten some criticism for the attacks on Benghazi, but amidst all the fog of talking heads and Glenn Beck conspiracy theories are the facts that get ignored.  There are 294 United States Embassies and Consulates around the world, many of which are located in very volatile countries, all in the name to protect U.S. interests, which are mostly oil and defense.
The consulate in Benghazi was not unique in terms of feeling they were in danger.  Our worst fears came into fruition, and we were unprepared for it.  What this should do is open up dialogue about how well our consulates are protected and if we even need to be present in many of these countries.  Conspiracy theories and talking heads are clouding the real issue unfortunately, and the chance to have any real discussion about this is beginning to dissipate.
Unlike my Republican counterparts, if my guy does not win I do not think it will be the end of the United States as we know it.  Some Republicans truly believe Obama is the living ghost of Che Guevara and if reelected will reveal himself and we will soon be socialists.   I do not think that Romney will ruin this country.
What I fear about a Romney presidency is a return to the ignorance and anti-intellectualism that was so prominent during the Bush years.  I am afraid to have a White House filled with people who think evolution and climate change are just theories, you know, like gravity is just a theory.  Perhaps we can all float.
I fear an administration that bans stem cell research, even though it is likely to lead to major breakthroughs in the world of medicine.
I fear a Romney cabinet that believes the federal government should not interfere with the lives of their citizens unless, of course, you are a woman or gay.
I fear an administration that did not support an end to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and will defend DOMA.  
This brings us to the fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats.  My Republican friends always ask why I care so much about gay rights.  They point out that I am not gay and therefore should have no stake in this issue.  
This monocentric view of the world republicans have is what separates them from Democrats.  
Republicans are only concerned with the "me and now" while Democrats tend to focus on the "us and the future."

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