Fox News continues to push the idea that Americans aren't "better off" than they were four years ago, ignoring that the U.S. economic situation has improved from the economic free-fall occurring at this time in 2008.
On the October 22 edition of Fox & Friends, a segment featuring Michael Reagan was prefaced by a clip of his father, President Ronald Reagan, asking in a 1980 debate, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Michael Reagan argued that Mitt Romney should point out that "the only people really better off today than they were four years ago is Barack Hussein Obama and, of course, the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden."
Fox News has a history of asking the "better off" question regarding this year's presidential election -- 26 times in August alone. And more often than not, Fox fails to provide the background needed to answer that question.
Indeed, neither Reagan nor the Fox & Friends hosts mentioned that the economy was rapidly contracting at this time four years ago. Gross domestic product declined by an annualized rate of 8.9 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008, and more than 3.2 million jobs were lost from September 2008 to January 2009. Today, the economy is on the rise, supported by steady job growth.
Reagan also noted that former President Bill Clinton said at the Democratic National Convention that "the economy was so bad neither he or any of his predecessors could have fixed it, "adding, "Ronald Reagan fixed the economy in three years." That statement ignores that the the 2008 recession was much different than the one in the early 1980s. Predictably, the Fox & Friends hosts said nothing to correct this falsehood.
Economists agree that the recovery from the early 1980s recession was driven by interest rates declining from the unusually high levels to which they had been raised in order to curb inflation. Now, the Federal Reserve has already lowered interest rates to near zero, no longer making that option available as it was to Reagan. Further, the recent recession was caused by a fiscal crisis, and those recessions require more time to recover.