Are Americans Better or Worse Off Than 4 Years Ago?

By Nicole Crossey, Widener University Student

As Americans are we better off, worse off or neither than we were 4 years ago?

In Landler’s “‘Are You Better Off?’ The Answer Is Less Clear than It Was in 1980” and Rutenberg’s “Democrats say that U.S. is Better Off than Four Years ago”, a mix of good and bad appears and makes that question hard to answer. Democrats say we are better off and Republicans say we are worse off.

The Democrats use the “auto bailout, Osama Bin Laden, supporting gay marriage, ending don’t ask, don’t tell, easing the threat of deportation to illegal immigrants, and the healthcare overhaul” as points of progress in these past 4 years.

The Republicans say that we are worse off—“federal debt is ballooning”, the unemployment rate is still bad and housing rates are not better. “47% of Americans think we are worse off” since Obama has entered office.

For some, our recovery is too slow. Jobs have been added to the economy, but government spending cuts have slowed this growth. While Obama has racked up $5 Trillion in national debt, we are still recovering from the Bush Administration (tax cuts, debt, Medicare prescription drug coverage, and wars).

Ultimately, I think voters will give Obama more time in office because he has put us on a path of “sustainable recovery” and he kept us from falling into a “double-dip recession”. However, Romney did throw Obama for a loop on this question—perhaps we will see more like this.

Looking at the state of our nation statistically, we are worse off. In the context that we are recovering from one of the worst recessions in history, we are better off. Therefore, it depends whether the “glass is half empty or half full” to voters.

Avoiding W to Get the W

by John Vuotto

Widener University Political Science Major

In politics it is not uncommon for a candidate to try to associate him or herself with prestigious members of their party. This happened in 2008 when comparisons were made between, then, Senator Obama and President John F. Kennedy. Former President, Bill Clinton, also accompanied Senator Obama at points in the campaign.

There was also a very clear negative association game played by the Obama administration. They successfully made John McCain out to look like a 3rd term for President George W. Bush.

That negative association with George W. Bush seems to have carried over into 2012. Throughout the Republican presidential primaries, the candidates have tried to make themselves look like the most conservative candidate. Often, the candidates mention the name of one of the most popular Republican presidents in recent time; Ronald Reagan. The numerous candidates, especially Newt Gingrich, have mentioned Reagan several times during the debates.

While the attempted association with Reagan remains popular, there has been little, if any, mention of George W. Bush. The Bush presidency was no doubt controversial but it is strange that a former Republican President who served two terms has not had more influence in the current race. It seems the candidates are trying to avoid any association with Bush because his name still turns a lot of potential voters off, especially moderates and Independents.

President Obama, the Supreme Court & Health Care Reform

Last week the Supreme Court heard arguments concerning the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Here are reactions from Gregory Grossman and John Vuotto.

Obamacare in the Supreme Court

by Gregory Grossman

Widener University Political Science Major

President Obama’s “Obamacare” is finally being heard by the Supreme Court. This main issue at hand is the mandate stating that most Americans must purchase healthcare. Obamacare, as a piece of legislation, is thousands of pages. If the Supreme Court rules the mandate as unconstitutional, they then need to decide if they should save the rest or scrap the whole thing. Obama dedicated most of his first term to the legislation, and scrapping the whole thing would be a huge blow to his administration. However, taking the thousands of pages and deciphering them line by line to decide what fits and what doesn’t is not realistic at all. I believe Obamacare should be ruled constitutional. However I understand the reasons why people oppose it. Since our Constitution is “living”, we must adapt what the Founders left us to fit the present time, and taking it literally will halt our growth as a democracy.

Have Partisan Politics Entered Our Court System?

by John Vuotto

Widener University Political Science Major

Everything about President Obama’s health care law has been controversial. From the way it was passed to the actual contents of the bill, it has been the source of continued debate and ideological disagreement between liberals and conservatives. Even the name of the bill is a subject of disagreement. Depending on which Party you associate with, you may call it Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.

Last week, arguments were heard in the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of the law. The main part in question is the mandate that requires everyone to buy health insurance or face a penalty. The Court’s decision, which is expected in the early part of the summer, could significantly affect President Obama’s chances at reelection.

But is the Supreme Court just another step in the extremely partisan system we have grown accustomed to? The Supreme Court is supposed to be the institution where politics ends and logic and careful study take over but one can argue this is not really the case. Taking a look at all of the Supreme Court Justices, one can make a decent assumption on the outcome, with Justice Anthony Kennedy being the only wild card and consequently the deciding vote.

All of the conservative Justices are expected to vote down the law while the liberal Justices are expected to uphold it. Do the Justices have their minds’ made up before they even look at the complexities of a certain situation? While the Justices are expected to be unbiased it is difficult for them to do so. Someone once said about judges that the facts of the case are less important than the person deciding the case. Unfortunately, I believe this is a very accurate description of our court system.

Enough is Enough

by Stephen Scuderi

Widener University Political Science Major

With an approval rating of 11 percent, Congress has reached an all time low in the eyes of the American people. Unable to agree or make solid compromises, both houses have deteriorated into mudslinging matches that leave the citizens of United States angered, ashamed, and desperate for change. But who is to blame? Is it the Republicans, who are refusing to compromise in order ruin President Obama’s term? Or is it Democrats, who are accused of being ‘spineless’ and unwilling to fight for proper compromise?

In my opinion the stagnation of Congress is the fault of both parties. Party polarization has become so strong that nothing can get done. It’s common knowledge that the first priority of every politician is reelection but enough is enough. Politicians, especially Republicans are afraid to work across the aisle for fear of being labeled as a ‘moderate’. In the Republican Presidential Primary, Newt Gingrich has been attacked for participating in a climate change ad with Nancy Pelosi. I find it disheartening that simply being seen with opposition is toxic to ones political career. It’s time for Congress to remember their oath of office, “…I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter..”, because how they are currently acting is a disgrace to their position and a disserve to the American people.