Obama’s Economic Problem: He’s Crushed The Middle-Class
The Obama campaign is sinking and in a rapid fashion. With the economy being the number one issue in the election and now that voters have begun to appraise Obama’s economic record, his reelection chances have been turned upside down. A CNN poll taken just after the second presidential debate found that Romney was favored over Obama 58%-40% when asked who was best to handle the economy. If that margin holds until Election Day, Obama could well lose in a landslide.
However, Obama’s economic problems run deeper than just the overall economic weakness we’ve experienced during his term in office. The devil is in the details, if you will. What is pulling the campaign into a downward spiral is that the economic failures of his administration have had more pronounced effects upon the major demographic group he most covets—the Middle-Class.
Recall the question during the second presidential debate when Obama was asked about Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s assessment that his job was not to keep oil prices relatively low. Obama danced around the question, a question that was obviously spurred by the fact that gasoline prices are currently about double the $1.83/gallon they were when Obama took office.
You see gas prices are a big deal for many in this country, specifically for those individuals in the middle-class of income and of course the lower-class. The person who spent $150 per month on gas four years ago now spends better than $300/month. That’s a real, in-your-face cost of living increase versus an increase in payroll tax or state tax that’s a line-item on an electronic pay stub of the worker.
For anyone who drives much at all for work or for other purposes, the rise in gas prices under the Obama administration has cost that individual and family some $1,500 or upwards of $2,000 or perhaps $3,000 or more per year. For middle-income and low-income voters, that’s a lot of money. Therefore for President Obama to ignore the specific issue of gas prices as he did in the debate and as he has refused to take ownership of throughout his presidency, is then essentially telling the middle-income voter that he doesn’t care about an issue that costs them thousands of dollars per year. No wonder they are turning their backs on him as decision time looms.
Middle-income voters, again those are voters coveted by both campaigns, have also been disproportionately affected by the massive increase of unemployment and underemployment during Obama’s term. This has led to millions of foreclosures ad countless mothers and fathers cutting costs wherever possible and taking second jobs just to survive. That’s hardly the lifestyle they had four years ago and that’s far from the middle-class lifestyle one would imagine. So, why would they vote for more of the same?
Now, these highly-coveted voters may be a payment or two behind on their mortgage, renting a home instead of owning because of a foreclosure, or using credit cards to pay for essentials, and therefore falling farther and farther from economic stability in their households. No wonder Romney’s economic plan seems to be looking better and better each day for these voters.
The weakness of the Obama economy and its impact on the middle-class dovetails with the heightened issues of the massive student loan debt being carried by an increasing number of college students and recent graduates. Again, it’s middle-class families that have been exposed to the brunt of the pain. Since the parents in middle-class families often earn too much money for significant financial aid, student loans are used to finance an education with the hope that it will provide for high earnings and a solid long-term career for a child.
Unfortunately, it’s a little difficult for a young twenty-something to pay back student loan debt when he or she has little or no source of income. So, when that occurs, those middle-class parents might be stuck paying back the federal government until their children can get the job associated with their field of study. Will those parents who are now footing the bill for their kids’ college costs want to vote for Obama again if they pulled the lever for him in 2008?
The middle-class has simply been devastated under the Obama reign. Middle-class incomes have fallen 4.1% since 2009. Contrast this with the eight years of Regean’s presidency, when middle-class incomes rose some 13%. Their purchasing power has also decreased with the rise in energy prices and their job prospects remain challenging at best. The middle-class has been crushed by the policies of the Obama administration over the past four years.
So, it should come as no surprise that as middle-class voters are making their voting decisions, it is increasingly looking as though Obama will join Jimmy Carter as a recent one-term Democratic president.
Chad Stafko is a writer and political consultant living in the Midwest. He can be reached at email@example.com