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By a narrow margin, more respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say they are worse off financially than they were four years ago, compared with those who think they are better off. When separated by political affiliation, however, attitudes vary widely.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has revived Ronald Reagan’s famous question to voters in the 1980 campaign: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”
Romney and his supporters point to statistics such as the U.S. jobless rate (8.1 percent in August compared with 6.1 percent in August 2008) and the number of unemployed (12.6 million now versus 9.4 million then).
Supporters of President Barack Obama respond by pointing to the recovery from the September 2008 financial collapse, which pushed the nation into a severe recession. They also note that the stock market has surged.
Nearly 60 percent of Republicans say they are worse off, compared with 22 percent saying they are better off. By contrast, 65 percent of Democrats say they are better off, versus 19 percent who think they are worse off.
Among independents and those affiliated with a third party, 45 percent report being worse off, compared with 37 percent who say they are better off.
Roughly 910 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Sept. 17 and 18.
Are you better off today financially than you were four years ago?
Worse off: 43%
Better off: 39%
About the same: 18%
Among non-affiliated and others:
Worse off: 45%
Better off: 37%
About the same: 18%
Worse off: 59%
Better off: 22%
About the same: 19%
Better off: 65%
Worse off: 19%
About the same: 16%
What is your political affiliation?
Maybe I am one of the lucky ones, but nothing Obama has implemented has affected me directly, with the exception of the Social Security reduction and the first-time homebuyers’ stimulus, so I’d have to say that I am better off.
I am better off financially and, more importantly, culturally, spiritually and internationally safer. We have a long road ahead, and We the People must move forward together. Compromise is required to make the needed fiscal changes.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results
Wrong question. For me it is, “Are you and your family better off than you were 30 years ago?” This is how long the supply-side, trickle-down has actually bent the curve toward the top while rewarding work less and less. President Obama has bent it slightly the other way, but we and our government continue to be held hostage by the rich elite.
—Jim Bertolone, Rochester AFL-CIO
I have not had a raise in eight years, prices are out of control, the government thinks they can do whatever they want even if they don’t have the money.
I’m definitely better off than I was four years ago—thanks to me and my husband’s hard work, perseverance and commitment to meeting our financial goals. President Obama’s “efforts” had nothing to do with it, and I would expect that if Romney becomes president, I’ll be exponentially better off financially in four more years if he succeeds in reducing the size and burden of government.
—R. Canley, Fairport
This is difficult to respond. When I consider “better off,” it includes the inflation, the national debt, involvement in more wars, high cost of everything, the lack of jobs in America, the “dumbing down” of the educational system. No, I (we) are NOT better off!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield
The national debt four years ago was $9,986,082,000,000; at the end of 2012 it is estimated to be $16,654,260,000,000. The $6,668,178,000,000 increase in the federal debt makes us all worse off now! This is a 67% increase in four years.
—Gerald Van Strydonck
Dow Jones Industrial Average was 6,626, now 13,559. GM and Chrysler are out of bankruptcy and employing people. Banks and insurance companies are solvent. Affordable health care was passed. All we need now is for companies to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.
—Dana Miller, City Council
As a recent citizen, the United States has given me great opportunity and the platform to build a thriving business. I will always be grateful for this.
—Paul Dudley, id Signsystems
I can only wish that by November this point is driven home harder than any other statement because clearly we are not. This administration continues to hit the small business man not only on a global issue dealing with $4-plus a gallon in gas, which also translates to other forms of business travel, etc., but on a micro level with the cost of doing business with added taxes, fees and now Obamacare. Could go on and on, but I feel sick inside. Simple answer to the question: NO. He needs to be replaced as he has failed himself, our great country and our allies. As far as the stock market climb, I believe it’s all speculators and is not a true indicator as it once was.
—David Topian, WREA
"You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of." A quote from the late Jim Rohn. Rather than worry our minds over the external, we could better improve our lot in life by focusing solely on ourselves. To that aim, I am much better off today than I was four years ago. And four years from now, I'll be even better!
Things are at least headed in a positive direction— lots more to do for sure.
—Dave Vanable, Honeoye Falls
With no raises and health care costs dramatically rising, plus the cost of everything rising, I’m no better off. (I don't know how the government "FED" doesn't see inflation—lol—the FED doesn't buy gas or eat.) Like I said on a previous poll, the U.S.A. is turning into a third world economy. God save this country for my children and my retirement. I wish Congress received the same health care benefits package and retirement benefits the average Joe receives today; maybe then they would see the situation clearer and work harder to find a bipartisan solution for our country’s issues.
Those who have experienced any sort of involuntary job transition over the past four years will almost certainly confirm that salaries being offered for professional positions requiring the same (or more!) experience have continued a steady decline—and that's when positions are actually available. This sustained downward movement of salaries, combined with extended periods of less than "full" income, erodes a professional's and/or family's financial health. By contrast, those who have been able to sidestep employment turbulence over the past four years are typically those who have continued to enjoy financial security and perhaps even growth.
—Christopher Burns, Strategic Marketing Consultant
No. In 2008 I was married. In 2012 I am divorced. My ex-wife will vote for any candidate that will further her pursuit of other people's money. I will do all I can to cancel her vote.
I'm hoping the election of Mitt Romney would be good for 1,000 points on the Dow; then I'd be even with four years ago!
—Arnold Gray, Gray CPA
Four years ago, our company had record sales and earnings. We had 13 employees and paid more than $100,000 in profit-sharing bonuses. I had money to help a couple of families in our church who fell on hard times. Today our sales are down about 80 percent. We have had to let most employees go. More families in our church need help and I can't help as much. In the short-term, our economy is not going to recover. If Bernanke and Geithner continue to steer the economy, it will crash. Inflation will kick in making our retirement savings worth less. Four more years of these incompetence will take 10 years to get over.
—Dennis Ditch, Delta Square Inc.
Working part-time in retirement allows me to say I'm in the same financial position as I was four years ago. But, least anyone be misled, I think that American jobs/unemployment is our No. 1 issue. Not only for financial stability of people/families, but also for social stability. It is not possible to import prosperity from a foreign country.
—Wayne Donner, Rush
Our family is better off than we were four years ago. However, not because of the Obama administration's economic policies. We are better off in spite of those failed policies.
—Mike Kaser, Penfield
Yes. When I compare September 2008 and 2012 Dow Jones levels, today, the market is 20 percent or so higher. I sit a tad taller, a little more willing to “take out my wallet.” I’m not sure about our home’s value but know, in the interim, we were reassessed and our reassessed evaluation is higher, today, than in 2008. Mother and Dad were Roosevelt Depression-era Democrats and I think I inherited the gene. I’m a musician/teacher by training. Economics has always been a strange brew for me and, because I don’t understand the science/discipline, don’t feel qualified to be a judge in the field. Viscerally, I do believe, President Obama’s overall leadership has improved our country and economy. Without hesitation, I’m his very strong advocate. That being the case, who would suspect my “visceralities” different?
If we compare this recovery to the recovery from the 2001 recession, it has been more volatile, but always upward. This year is much better than 2011 was. Economists predicted that regardless of what action the federal government took that the crawl out of the 2008 Republican debacle would take longer and be slower than a typical recession recovery due to external world financial conditions, and the fact we never fully recovered from the 2001 recession. So far the only quibble the economists have had with policy is that the government didn't raise taxes on the rich and spend more to assist a middle-class recovery. The president is doing a good job with the situation handed to him and the tools he has at his disposal. If the Republicans weren't blocking needed recovery legislation, we would all be doing better. Trashing the economy and then saying, “Look how bad the economy is, we can fix that” is hypocrisy of the highest degree.
—Lee Drake, CEO, OS-Cubed, Inc.
I am a small-business owner. Our business has grown by double digits every year for the past six years. No doubt that 2009 was a very difficult year to navigate, but in the end it was a positive one. We started in 2007 with two employees, and now have five full-time employees and a few seasonal part-time employees. We plan to hire two additional full-time employees in the next six months.
—Sergio Ruffolo, COO, JR Language Translation Services, Inc.
Better off because I control my own and my family's well being. I don't depend on anyone or anything else. If more people thought this way and if our “know-the-best-for-us politicians” stayed out of our lives, we would all be better able to maximize our abilities; some better than others.
—Robert M. Jones, Numax Inc.
Four years ago, the economy was going down the tubes. Today the markets are up, productivity is way up and many of us are doing better than we were four years ago. However, most low-skill positions are no longer necessary due to robotics, etc., and therefore many at the lower end of the income scale just can't make ends meet. One of the issues that we need to address is the development of more highly skilled workers to compete for the highly skilled positions that are vacant due to the lack of highly skilled employees.
The question is useless and off the point. Mitt Romney and his party have done nothing to get us out the slump after getting us into it. Since they are the party of the rich, they could have worked on them to provide more jobs using their money that they extracted from the Obamacare that pulled out of the mess. The resulting improvements, though not satisfying anyone, are not their work. What now? Their only program is to give more money in tax-reductions to the wealthy with the hope that these will provide jobs. This has been tried all along, but has never worked for the working people, including middle- and upper middle class. I am doing OK thanks to Social Security and Medicare. These are now in danger of being robbed by the Republicans to give more tax-reductions to the wealthy, not, as done by Obama, designed to improve the systems. There was a time when I voted for Republicans. After having seen their change to the greed—and no-care-for-the-country party, guess whom I will be voting for?
9/21/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.