FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Ronald Reagan had some success with this question a few years ago and things weren't nearly as crummy then as they are now: Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago? But this time it's been 8 years.
Think about it: unemployment is rising. The rate stands at 5.7% and we have lost 463,000 jobs since the first of the year. And so is inflation. It's accelerating at a faster rate than it has in 17 years. Gas prices are up 34% in the last year. Oil was around $26 a barrel when President Bush was inaugurated... it touched $147 a few weeks ago. More than 1 million homes are now in foreclosure.
Here are some national comparisons between today and where things were 8 years ago: Americans' wages have actually gone down since the last recession ended. And we are spending 14.1% of our disposable income on debt; that's higher than it was in 2001.
Americans are pretty glum about the future, too. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index stood at almost 85% in 2001; now it's just below 52%.
Also, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll finds 75% of those surveyed think the economy is in bad shape; that's compared to just 43% who felt that way a year ago.
So as the conventions get under way and the campaign for the White House heats up - voters have a lot to think about.
Here’s my question to you: With the election 71 days away, are you better off now than you were eight years ago?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Anthony from Wildwood Crest, New Jersey writes:
Not even close! If you add the Bush years plus 2 happy additions called mouths to feed, we are STRUGGLING!!! If it was up to me, we would get rid of the pathetic Electoral College that allowed him in and change the 2 term limits. Why do we have representatives and senators who decide what happens in America until they are 90, but can't re-elect a great president who had a SURPLUS? Remember those good ole days called the ‘90s?
Stacy from Virginia writes:
Jack, I cannot complain about the past eight years personally. My salary has steadily increased, I bought a reasonable house, I got married and my wife and I are expecting twins in October. The country, however, is not better off than 8 years ago. Eight years ago, there was optimism, a healthy economy, and a federal budget that had a surplus. No there is fear and pessimism, an economy in danger and record deficit spending.
Gary from Asheville, North Carolina writes:
The more relevant question is whether Americans have gotten what they deserved by twice voting into the presidency a man they would prefer to have a beer with. Al Gore and John Kerry were "boring" while George Bush was just a down-home kind of guy. Americans, at least the Democrats, seem prepared to do the same thing again, vote for someone they would like to go clubbing with. Obama is cool in a Harry Belafonte kind of way. But nobody really knows what he thinks, just like Bush. That's scary.
In a word, yes! Those who were prudent with finances and did not take risky or ill-advised mortgages should be better off. Those who racked up huge debt on credit cards and the like reap what they sow!
John from Atlanta writes:
You got jokes. Have you gotten a raise lately? Paid for a gallon of gas? Tried to get a job in Ohio or Indiana? Had a foreclosure? Know someone who has? Lost a relative in the Iraq War, or know someone going... again? Yeah, you got jokes.
Chris from Valley, Alabama writes:
Jack, Sure we are if you make $5,000,000 and own 7 houses or is it 8 or 9? Tell you what, let my staff get back with your staff on the exact numbers.