Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

Recently, you may have seen Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in front of a microphone stumping for former President Donald Trump and asking the gathered crowd, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Stefanick has been mentioned as a potential choice as Trump’s Vice-President, so you can imagine her answer to that question. But she is not alone in asking it. Trump himself recently took to Truth Social asking the same question. And some version of the question has been asked on practically every news program and in every newspaper and magazine that includes political coverage.

The answer should be obvious. Four years ago, in 2020, we were in the middle of a global Covid pandemic. Schools were closed, we were required to wear masks in most public places. Grocery store shelves were depleted, toilet paper was in short supply, millions of non-essential workers were laid-off from their jobs, and countless businesses were shuttered, many of them permanently.

Weddings had to be cancelled. People couldn’t attend family funerals. And those that were hospitalized—many of them sick with Covid—died alone because visitors were not allowed.

Healthcare professionals were forced to re-use masks because the Trump Administration nearly exhausted the nation’s strategic supply and didn’t make arrangements to restock it. In large cities, refrigerated trucks were used to store corpses, since morgues and funeral homes were over capacity with the bodies of those who had died. Sadly, four years ago at this time, deaths from Covid had just begun. We were counting deaths in the hundreds. Very soon, we would be counting them in the millions.

I’m 64-years old, and in my lifetime, I have never seen a more desperate, horrible time in the United States. To make matters worse, the President and many of his party faithful lied to us, simultaneously claiming that Covid was a hoax, it would go away quickly, it was no worse than the flu, and that it was a biological weapon unleashed on the United States by China. Thanks to Trump’s divisive nature, the reality of Covid and how best to treat it became a political issue as much as a healthcare issue. As a result, the virus impacted the United States much more severely than it did other countries.

Now, four years later, we have weathered the worst of the Covid storm. While still a concern, we now have supplies, treatments, and protocols in place to handle Covid, in schools, the workplace, and in public.

Since those dark days of 2020, our nation has rebounded economically. According to The Economist magazine, economic growth in the United States has outpaced the economy of every other G7 country. Entrepreneurship in the United States is booming. During the first two years of the Biden Administration, new business applications increased 33% over the number filed during the final two years of the Trump Presidency.

Inflation is currently at a reasonable 2% and unemployment remains at record lows. There is a job for any American that wants one. More importantly, wages have grown for 80% of Americans. The only group that has witnessed a wage decrease is the top 20% wealthiest Americans, helping to reduce wealth inequality that had been growing at a significant pace in recent years.

The stock market has also hit record highs in recent months. Although the average American does not own individual stocks, many do have retirement savings (pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs) that are invested in the stock market. These gains may not put food on the table for most Americans, but they do provide peace of mind and the promise of a more comfortable retirement.

Not everything is rosy. Immigration still poses a challenge to the nation, although it isn’t the mess Republicans would have you believe. In fact, the Senate passed a bi-partisan immigration bill—the toughest in our nation’s history—but Trump has asked Republicans not to take up the bill in the House so he can use immigration as a political issue in his campaign to re-take the White House.

We also see a rise in neo-Nazism, white supremacy, Christian Nationalism, fascism, and other attacks on our democracy. In his campaign for President, Trump has detailed a plan for further attacks on our democracy and on our freedoms, embracing political violence and the un-American values espoused by these groups.

On the world stage, NATO has never been stronger, yet we (the United States) are currently failing to help Ukraine in their battle to repel Russia’s unprovoked attack. In addition, the situation in the Middle East worsens and China continues to be a threat to Taiwan, but Republicans in the House refuse to do more than issue strong statements and condemnations.

Even with these challenges, it is clear that the vast majority of Americans are objectively better off today than they were four years ago. That is an inconvenient truth for Donald Trump and his surrogates who preach doom and gloom as a campaign strategy. Despite their claims, by almost any metric, both domestically and internationally, we are in a far better place today than we were in 2020. I don’t want to go back. How about you?


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