Short, understandable economic quips often define presidential campaigns for second terms in office which are inherently about whether or not to fire the sitting president.
James Carville’s famous, “It’s the economy, stupid,” line both reflected the views of a majority of voters and narrowed the 1992 election fight between President George H.W. Bush and Governor Bill Clinton to a discussion of how Americans felt about their economic prospects.
In 1980, California Governor Ronald Reagan asked the American public, “Are you better off than you were four years ago” in the closing arguments of his final debate with President Jimmy Carter. A question which encapsulated the choice voters faced.
These two knockout lines defined a one term incumbent president by tying a faltering economy around his neck.
Barack Obama finds himself in a similar position as Bush, Carter and even Hoover before him, seeking re-election in an economy that is performing poorly and asking voters to affirm his failed policies.
Obama has to convince voters to overlook the fact that he has overseen a post WW II record 40 straight months of unemployment over 8 percent. According to Gallup, 19.1 percent of Americans say they are “underemployed.” How do you think the tens of millions who classify themselves as unemployed or underemployed would answer Reagan’s famous question?
Under Barack Obama, the average worker has seen an inflation adjusted drop in their hourly wage of $.22 an hour. How do you think people who are working longer and harder to buy the same amount of goods and services are going to answer Reagan’s question.
Barack Obama has seen the national debt go up by almost 5 trillion dollars since he became president. How do you think thinking people with children are going to answer Reagan’s question when they consider that their children have been shackled by prosperity choking debt under Obama’s watch?
According to the Christian Science Monitor, three in 10 young adults are living at home with their parents rather than moving out on their own, the highest level since the 1950s when young women typically lived at home until marriage. How do you think these basement dwellers and their parents are going to answer the question about their well being?
The fact is that Barack Obama’s presidency is defined by the economy, and whether a pithy one liner emerges or not, he will be rehired or fired based upon how voters view their personal economic situation and that of those who they love.
Given the state of the economy three and a half years into Obama’s reign, it would be wise for Team Obama to begin building their personal rainy day funds and start polishing their resumes. I understand that it is a particularly difficult time to find a job, a difficult fact that members of Team Obama are likely soon to discover when the people celebrate their trip to the unemployment lines on January 20, 2013 at 12:01 pm.
Rick Manning is the Communications Director of Americans for Limited Government.
Obama must convince voters to overlook dismal record