September 3rd, 2012
07:56 AM ET
10 years ago

Dems attempt clean up on 'are you better off' question

(CNN) – A day after prominent Democrats struggled to answer whether or not Americans were better off in 2012 than they were four years ago, party leaders on Monday explained why the question didn't have an easy answer, and renewed their attempt to pin the blame for Americans' economic woes on the previous president.

Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, said on CNN's "Early Start" that Americans were "absolutely" better off than four years ago, portraying the president as a pilot who brought a crashing airplane out of a downward trajectory.

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"The truth is that the American people know, we were literally a plane, the trajectory was towards the ground. He got the stick and pulled us up out of that decline," Woodhouse said.

His answer was far more definitive than many Democrats appearing on Sunday morning shows this week, who stumbled over answering the question of how Americans feel four years after Barack Obama was elected president.

"We're in a better position than we were four years ago," Obama's senior campaign adviser David Axelrod said on Fox News. He said improved jobs figures were an indication that the economy was headed in the right direction.

But on the direct question of whether or not voters themselves were better off, Axelrod demurred.

"I think the average American recognizes that it took years to create the crisis that erupted in 2008 and peaked in January of 2009," he said. "And it's going to take some time to work through it."

White House senior adviser David Plouffe had a similar answer on ABC, saying Republicans were simply "reciting all the statistics everyone's familiar with."

"I think everyone understands we were this close to a Great Depression," he said. "Because of the leadership of this president, we staved that off. We're beginning to recover."

And on CBS, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley admitted flat out that the answer was "no" to the question of whether "people are better off today than they were four years ago."

"But that's not the question of this election," O'Malley said. "The question, without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars - charged for the first time to credit cards, the national credit cards."

On Monday, O'Malley appeared on CNN, saying the country as a whole was "clearly better off" since jobs are being created on a monthly basis, rather than lost.

But he still stipulated that more work had to be accomplished in reversing what he called the "Bush recession."

Filed under: Economy • Martin O'Malley
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    YES, we are MUCH BETTER today than any under idiotic GOP regime. War, war, war idiots that totally DRAINRED THIS NATION. We need strict immigration even to INDIA, PAKISTAN.

    September 3, 2012 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  2. hangar13

    Before the GOP Convention, CNN was writing splashy stories about the strippers in Tampa expecting a big week. Before the Dem Convention – it's all about defining their message. Nope, no bias here. Democrats are good, Republicans are evil, just middle of the road reporting of established facts. And all three of your fans are lapping it up.

    September 3, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  3. Dave

    If the Dems say yes to this question, lots of folks in the real world that are hurting are going to think these spokespeople and Obama are living in a fantasy land, and if they say no, then they are giving the Republicans a club to beat them over the head with all the way to Nov 6th...Joe Lunchbucket on his way to work fueling up his car and watching the digits climb hears the Dems declaring hes better off with 4.00 a gallon gas????....

    September 3, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  4. Gaz

    The invisible president that clint eastwood was talking to in the chair was not an imaginary obama. It was the invisible george w bush who republicans refuse to acknowledge to exist. As far as they would admit, obama was president since 2000 and started the two wars(kept off the books), the housing crisis, the credit downgrade, the bush tax cuts(dont let the name fool you), the prescription fiasco and the near depression recession. Its all obama's fault. Who is this bush you speak of. Obama was clearly president for 12 years.

    September 3, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  5. Jules

    Come on campaign gurus – are we better off? I sure am. Get the charts out to show you the job loses under the previous administration and how that was stopped. Get out the spending charts and show how that's down. All the people that now have health insurance due to the ACA (Obamacare) with millions more to be addd in 2014, the closing of the donut hole for perscriptions, can get insurance coverage even with pre existing conditions, babies insured at birth even if they are born with medical condiions, equal pay for equal work, don't ask don't tell is gone, Wall St. reform, banking reform, credit card reform, Osama Bin Laden dead, auto companies flourishing and on and on and on. Of course we are better off – way better off and the Dems should own this question.

    September 3, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  6. Fred

    Dems can not answer that question because everyone knows the answer, Obama must go! YOU ARE FIRED OBAMA

    September 3, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    Indian doctors are cheating on Immigration-watch out if you have guts. Claiming all bogus claims to nephews, nieces, uncles, claiming SS, Medicare all bogus. Stop it. Immoderately. Obama12. Some old dudes are taking citizenship going to India taking SS and raping our system, we do not even know whether they are Aline or dead. Thugs from world to loot our system. Watch out, stop.

    September 3, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  8. onlyfacts61

    The facts are the stock market is over 13000. Corporate profits are at all time highs. Unemployment is the killer. If these Dems. On Sunday answered yes, the Repub.'s would have twisted their statements beyond belief.

    September 3, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  9. worriedmil

    I can't speak to the private sector, but from a military stand point, we are definitely NOT better off today! We have been cut to a significantly low manning level and our benefits have been threatened over the last four years. How is the military not even a topic of discussion?

    September 3, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Following the Dems Liberal, Socialist plans will land these once United States into transforming quickly into a Communist nation. Wake-up people!!!

    September 3, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  11. T'sah From Virginia

    Here's how I see it – I am better off because my job was saved by the stimulus; my children can remain on my health insurance until they are 26 years old; as far as JOBS, they are out there, you just can't be "choosy" at this time; houses are being built because my sons have work laying carpet and they are very busy –

    YES, America as a whole is better than 4 years ago because we are ADDING jobs and not LOSING them. And YES, we still have a long way to go and Romney's so-called promise to create 12,000,000 jobs in the next four years is 'ANOTHER LIE' because those jobs will be created no matter who the president is – REMOVE that claim from Romney and/or FORCE HIM to explain HOW he's going to do it???? Come on now – isn't it obvious the Republicans main concern is to JUMP on Obama's wagon because they know things WILL get better and they are trying to take the credit from President Obama – that was their plan from DAY ONE!!!!

    We need to continue to MOVE FORWARD and not go back to 'no regulations' – tax breaks for the rich – unpaid WARS, like Romney is proposing now in addition to the destruction of Education and further separation of the RICH versus the POOR!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward and YES, We Know You Built That – We ALL Did!!!

    September 3, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  12. muriel wilson

    am i better off .75 years old, money no. peace of mine yes .

    September 3, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  13. enuff

    Give it a rest CNN. this is the third time you've brought this up in 24 hours. Are you getting paid to be part of Romney's PR team? Why aren't tou asking where his taxes are... why aren't you pounding on son of boss? these actually demonstrate what character romney actually has, but you're giving him a free pass. you are not being objective and are losing any little bit of your journalistic integrity you may have left.

    September 3, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  14. rla

    The question is not if GWB started this whole thing -the question is did Obama and the democrats do what they should have to get us out???
    More people in poverty/food stamps, 5 more trillion in debt (national security and not sustainable), more taxes on the horizon, Obama care and its included foolishness, pass it and then read it, Jobs flowing over seas, GE research now in China for them to steal, weaker on the international front, a divided by design nation??? What's not to like GO ROMNEY

    September 3, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. HenryMiller

    "...explained why the question didn't have an easy answer..."

    When you have to resort to that excuse, you've already lost. Most people's answer to the "Are you better off?" question is a simple "No." And in most case the answer to "Are you worse off?" is "Yes."

    "...and renewed their attempt to pin the blame for Americans' economic woes on the previous president."

    It's been four years. Almost all of America's involvement in World War II was over in less than four years. From doubts that Western civilisation as we know it would survive, to complete certainty that it would, in less than four years.

    Even if Obama's policies are in any way beneficial–which I doubt–they're certainly not robust enough to really fix things.

    And Romney isn't Bush, in case the Left hasn't noticed. And he's not John McCain. Does anyone really believe that Romney is going to go on a Bush-like spending spree with an insanely expensive, Democrat-like, new Medicare entitlement? Does anyone believe he's going to go start yet another insanely expensive war?

    September 3, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Come now, CNN. Four years ago, America was losing 700,000+ jobs a month ... of which CNN operatives reported day after day. We've now had 26 consecutive months of jobs growth thanks alone to President Obama. John Boehner (and Paul Ryan) stood in front of the cameras nonstop yelling their Hell No mantra against every proposal Obama offered. Boehner and Ryan ran the 2010 campaign on a jobs program, then when they regained the House, they spent the past two years voting down every jobs proposal Obama offered - including the guy Romney picked as his V.P.

    700,000 jobs loss a month was catastrophic. Now that we are gaining jobs monthly ... it is a bad thing?

    Obama is all that HAS kept this country going at a time when Republicans played musical chairs with the budget to keep the devastation they created going full speed ahead.

    Obama gets my vote.

    September 3, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  17. kevin

    We are better off? Still Bush's fault? Can these guys ever accept reality? The principle here is real simple. No one is arguing that when Obama took over things were tough. However, once he became president the problems he inherited from Bush became his problems just like Bush got Clinton's and so on down the line. What Obama did to correct those problems became his responsibility and his alone. If what he did was successful the dems would be pounding their chests and bragging about it and you won't hear nary a thing about Bush. But since it didn't work, well it is Bush's fault. You can't have it both ways. If a CEO ruined his company and blamed it on the guy before him do you honestly think the company board would keep that CEO? No they would fire that guy on the spot! Can't fire someone who doesn't work there anymore. Same principle here. Forget everything else and ask yourself honestly did Obama do what he said he would and are we better shape today? If you are honest the answer is no he did not and he should be voted out.

    September 3, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  18. v_mag

    Once again, that is the wrong question. The real question is, "Will you be better off with Obama in 4 years or with George W. Bush's clone Mitt Rob-money." Obama is not perfect at all. Bush/Romney is infinitely worse.

    Romney is endorsed by the Bush crime family and wants to continue all the Bush policies. This election is between a second term for Obama or a third term for Bush.

    September 3, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  19. c.williams

    Can they get any dumber? It will be fun waiting to see, shouldn’t be long, tomorrow dawns a new day of opportunity for stupidity.

    September 3, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  20. tee1227

    This why CNN is dead last in rating and no one what`s to watch. This is just crazy voters no how to speak for them self. So Cnn stop trying to spin this story this is old news.

    September 3, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  21. kevin

    Just one last thought....President Regan inherited the same kind of mess from President Carter yet in less than 4 years, with a Congress controlled by Democrats, managed to turn around everything 360 and we were in great shape. President Obama had it even better and still didn't get it done. Gov. O'Malley needs to wake up.

    September 3, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  22. Indy

    Are you better off then you were four years ago or should you vote for Mitts and go back to the Bush policies and put the final nail in the coffin of the middle class. Are you better off now that there are some fininacial regulations that protect consumers or do you want to vote for Romney and let Wall Street make the rules. Are you better off with Obama/Romneycare or do you want a voucher system.As far as the jobs,it is people who create jobs not Presidents

    September 3, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |