These days it seems politicians are on TV 24-7, which means at one time or another, one of them is going to say something that gets them into trouble.
Like this gem from Mitt Romney:
“I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there, if it needs a repair, I’ll fix it."
It was one brief comment in a long answer on a CNN interview, but boy did his critics pounce.
Ed Schultz of MSNBC said this: "the message there for Mr. Romney is, I think, he feels the country has done enough for the very poor."
And here's what Dana Milbank of the Washington Post said on that same network: "what more could he be doing to please the one percent?"
But here's the thing: He was just trying to make the point that "safety net" tax credits, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc is 50 percent greater than five years ago!
The overall cost of these programs has tripled since the start of the recession!
Here's the rest of the statement that you may not have heard because the elite media missed it: "...the middle-income Americans, they're the folks that are really struggling right now and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them."
A point many on both sides of the aisle have made.
But that explanation came too little too late for the 24 hour news cycle.
The damage had already been done, but here's the thing.
Whether he meant what he said or not, it's not the point.
We're focusing on the wrong things, people!
What we should be talking about is a question I posed earlier this week: "Are you better off now than four years ago?"
Four years after the recession began, and two and a half years after it ended, real gross domestic product is down more than a thousand dollars per person, and nearly six million fewer Americans are working.
That, too, is according to the Wall Street Journal.
Never before have these indicators still been so low four years after a recession.
In fact, if we did things like we've done after the last ten recessions, GDP per person should be more than 45 hundred dollars higher, and more than 13 and a half million more Americans should be working.
Obviously, the great depression is a different story. The worst economic crisis ever in this country, and while the level of despair during the depression was different from the most recent crisis, the “recovery” is very similar.
As the paper points out, it's not because of the depth of the problem, but the inane government policies following each crash.
In the 1930s, FDR increased spending by more than three and a half percent of GDP, which looking at it now, is peanuts.
President Obama obliterated that number by increasing spending by four and a half percent of GDP.
The two leaders had similarly destructive tax policies: the top individual income tax rate eventually rose to 79 percent under Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.
Under Obama, the highest marginal tax rate will rise by more than 21 percent by the end of his term.
Instead of focusing on what Mitt Romney did or didn't mean, why don't we focus on the fact: this President and his failed policies have kept this economy from growing for the last four years.
Let's focus on how another four years of this spending spree will only make things worse.