One of the more common criticisms of President Obama from the left, especially over the last couple of weeks, is that he hasn't been forceful enough in highlighting his accomplishments. With that in mind, the president's remarks in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, yesterday are worth considering in detail.
Rachel noted some excerpts of the speech on the show last night, most notably the remarks on pay equity and health care for women, but I was also struck by the extent to which Obama is no longer shy about touting an economic success story. After taking stock of his accomplishments on foreign policy, national security, tax policy, Wall Street reform, health care reform, civil rights, the auto industry, and student loans, the president noted:
"Today, four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we're moving forward again. After losing 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, our businesses have now added more than 5 million new jobs over the past two and a half years.
"Unemployment has fallen from a peak of 10 percent to 7.8 percent. The stock market has nearly doubled, which means your 401(k)s have started to recover. Foreclosures are at their lowest point in five years. Home values are back on the rise. Manufacturing is coming home to America. Our assembly lines are starting to hum again."
I've been writing a fair amount about this lately, in large part because it seems to be something of a secret in the political discourse -- in nearly every key area of the American economy, we're seeing a strengthening recovery, the best since before Obama even took office. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are desperately trying to convince voters that conditions are deteriorating, but all available evidence points in the opposite direction.
Greg Sargent noted yesterday, "Romney is very, very good when reciting his fusillade of statistics about the Obama economy. And Romney and his allies are absolutely nuking the swing states with ads that paint a dire picture of widespread economic suffering and that brazenly distort the unemployment statistics to do so."
The more Obama offers a spirited defense of an economy that's picking up steam, the better his odds of victory.
Incidentally, the president's critique of Romney's arithmetic was also pretty compelling.
"Governor Romney also took another stab at trying to sell us his $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy. Once again, he refused to tell us how he's going to pay for it. He said he'd let you know after the election. Now, here's a tip: Usually when a politician tells you he's going to wait until after the election to explain a plan to you, they don't have a pleasant surprise in store for you. And in this case, it's because just about everybody who's looked at Governor Romney's $5 trillion in tax cuts says he can't pay for it without blowing a hole in the deficit or raising taxes on middle-class families. It can't be done.
"Governor Romney says he has a plan to create 12 million new jobs in the next four years. But when folks started crunching the numbers, it fell apart even faster than his tax plan. Turns out his jobs math isn't any better than his tax math. The Washington Post called it a "bait and switch."
"So let's recap what we learned last night. His tax plan doesn't add up; his jobs plan doesn't create jobs; his deficit reduction plan adds to the deficit. So, Iowa, everybody here has heard of the New Deal; you've heard of the fair deal; you've heard of the square deal. Mitt Romney is trying to sell you a Sketchy Deal.
"We are not buying it. We know better. We've been there. We've tried that. We're not going back. We're moving forward. That's why I need your vote. We've got to finish what we started in 2008. You don't want to invest in that sketchy deal."