Former Gov. Mitt Romney recently asked American citizens, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” It is a crafty, albeit unoriginal, tactic, appealing to undecided voters for candidates running against an incumbent.
Yet upon looking at a few key voter demographics to determine exactly who is and isn’t “better off” now, it becomes clear that the past four years have, to Romney’s chagrin, left much of the country better off.
First, look at women’s rights. In 2009 President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, giving women the right to sue their employers for receiving less pay than their male counterparts.
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, put a stop to a favorite practice of insurance companies: charging women more for the same coverage as men. In some states, women used to pay over 75 percent more than men for the same coverage, according to the National Women’s Law Center. In reference to a Planned Parenthood estimate, women could potentially save up to $18,000 during their lifetime under the ACA.
Being that 99 percent of sexually active women have used some method of contraception, according to a 2011 study by the Guttmacher Institute, it is safe to say that women are better off under the Obama administration than they would be under that of his opponent’s. Though Romney has been unclear about what changes he would make to Obamacare, one thing is for certain: It would look nothing like the current health care plan.
Moving on to students. In his first term, Obama stopped subsidizing banks for providing college loans. By eliminating banks from the process, the president was able to double federal funding for Pell Grants, increasing the number of recipients from 6 to 9 million. Obama also signed into law legislation forgiving federal loan debt after 10 years for those who enter public service professions and 20 years to any other recipient of a federal loan.
The middle class has also benefited, and will continue to benefit, under Obama. Over 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since 2010, and 223,000 jobs have been added to the auto industry since 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Obama implemented 18 tax cuts for small businesses. In addition, the president pledged to further cut taxes for companies that create jobs in America. Since taking office, Obama has cut taxes for 95 percent of working families.
Romney, on the other hand, proposes to raise taxes on households with annual incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 in order to pay for tax cuts given to the wealthy. A family earning up to $497,000 annually stands to save twice as much on taxes under Obama than under Romney. In fact, the only people who would save more on taxes under Romney than Obama are those pulling in over $500,000 per year.
The LGBTQ community is another group better off now than it was four years ago. Earlier in 2012, Obama became the first sitting president to declare his support for same-sex marriage. He did so after repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” finally allowing gays to serve openly in the military. In 2009, Obama extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. On the other hand, Romney supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
There you have it. The facts suggest that most Americans are indeed better off now than they were four years ago and certainly better off than they would be with Romney as president. Thanks, Mitt; if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask.