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Republican Representative Paul Ryan made a campaign stop at East Carolina University on Labor Day, and spoke along the theme set in Mitt Romney's nomination speech attacking President Obama on what the GOP considers his biggest vulnerability, by asking the question: “Are you better off?”
The “are you better off” question may have been an indictment of Jimmy Carter, but Republican hopes notwithstanding, 2012 isn’t 1980. The economy isn’t as bad, and most importantly, the public still remembers that day four years ago when Obama took office during the worst economic environment since the Great Depression.
On Inauguration Day 2009, the economy had lost nearly 4 million jobs and was still hemorraging at an unprecedented rate.
Now with approximately 150,000 new jobs per month and GDP growth of 1.7 percent, there’s no question that "yes," we’re better off today than when Barack Obama took office. It’s also true that current conditions are on the bad side of "meh." So, Romney-Ryan are going to have to not just ask "Are you better off?" they're going to have to convince voters that they would do better. And remember, Moody's has reported that regardless of who has the keys to the White House in November, economists expect 12 million new jobs in the next four years.
Lies and damned lies are not going to win the White House for Romney-Ryan. Not that they won't continue to go that route.
As Ryan spoke to supporters in North Carolina Monday, he cited bankruptcy numbers to make the point that failing businesses mean fewer jobs. “In 1980 under Jimmy Carter, 330,000 businesses filed for bankruptcy,” he said. “Last year, under President Obama’s failed leadership, 1.4 million businesses filed for bankruptcy.”
But Ryan's math gets fuzzy here. It seems he lumped business bankruptcies and much more numerous personal bankruptcies together. Of the 331,264 bankruptcies in 1980, only 43,694 were for businesses, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.
Of the 1,410,653 total bankruptcy filings last year, 47,806 were business bankruptcies, according to the institute. And, again, the numbers are falling. In 2009, there were 60,837 business bankruptcies. In July, the latest month with complete statistics, business bankruptcies were 22 percent lower than a year earlier, and personal bankruptcies were down 11 percent.
Far more appropriate than "Are you better off?" should be "Why should anyone trust Romney-Ryan to do what's best for the majority of Americans?"