(ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER)
By Mark Stein
Round about this time in the election cycle, a presidential challenger finds himself on the stump and posing a simple test to voters: "Ask yourself – are you better off now than you were four years ago?"
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But, in fact, you don't need to ask yourself, because the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances has done it for you. Between 2007 and 2010, Americans' median net worth fell 38.8 percent – or from $126,400 per family to $77,300 per family. Oh, dear. As I mentioned a few months ago, when readers asked me to recommend countries they could flee to, most of the countries worth fleeing to Americans can no longer afford to live in.
Which means we'll just have to fix things here. How likely is Barack Obama to do this? A few days ago he came to Cleveland, a city that is a byword for economic dynamism, fiscal prudence, and sound government. He gave a 54-minute address that tried the patience even of the most doting court eunuchs. "One of the worst speeches I've ever heard Barack Obama make," pronounced MSNBC's Jonathan Alter, as loyal Democrat attendees fled the arena to volunteer for the Obamacare death-panel pilot program. In fairness to the president, I wouldn't say it was that much worse, or duller, or more listless and inert than previous Obama speeches. In fact, much of it was exactly the same guff he was peddling when Jonathan Alter's pals were still hailing him as the world's greatest orator. The problem is the ever-widening gulf between the speech and the slough of despond all about.