Filed underDecision 2012
3/19/12 – Rich Zeoli
When I was a freshman in college, my Econ 101 Professor made a point about the economy: when it’s good, the incumbent wins. When it’s bad, the incumbent loses. The rest is filler. Let me say that I firmly believe this truth of our electoral politics. That said, many argue that Republicans are rooting against the economy out of fear that Obama will be ushered in to reelection. Hoisted up by the masses who are suddenly employed again, their homes finally worth something, and their cars dripping with cheap gasoline. if you buy the narrative pushed out by the media, the economy is back with a vengeance. Soon we’ll all be out eating giant steaks and drinking the same expensive wine served to the finest celebrities at White House dinners.
Yet for many, the key questions to ask about the economy are: how is your home doing and is your 34 year old son still living in your basement because he can’t find a job? A recent CS Monitor story on a Pew Research Center study revealed that three in ten are living back home with Mom and Dad again. These people aren’t lazy and no one, and I mean no one, likes the prospect of moving back in with their parents when they are an adult. Especially if you are single, it’s very difficult bring a date home when Mom & Dad are upstairs. And forget trying to host a party and sneaking booze in through the garage. Point is, it’s just not an indicator young adults use to gauge their success level in life.
“The rise in the boomerang phenomenon illustrates the effect the recession and the weak economy are having on young adults,” says Kim Parker, a senior researcher at Pew and the author of the study. “Young adults were hit particularly hard in the job market and are having to delay reaching some basic financial milestones of adulthood because of this.”
According to the CS article, “In 1980, some 11 percent of young adults lived in multigenerational households, suggesting that a strong economy helped youngsters gain independence more quickly. Today, some 29 percent of 25- to 34-year olds either never moved out of their parents’ home or say they returned home in recent years because of the economy, according to the Pew report. Among 18- to 24-year olds, that figure is even higher – 53 percent of young adults in that age group live at home.”
And if your basement is free of your unemployed children, that doesn’t mean it’s problem free. Millions of homes are about to be foreclosed on now that the courts have cleared the way for the foreclosures to go through. If you remember, they were all basically put on hold because of contractual issues related to which financial institution was holding the note. And if even if you aren’t facing the prospect of foreclosure, most people I know still either can’t sell their home or will take a pretty significant loss on what was supposed to be their ever increasing nest egg.
Then there’s jobs. Yes, the unemployment rate has come down but the underemployment rate is still holding strong. Ask yourself if you are making what you are worth and if not, join the millions who fill the ranks of the underemployed. And let’s never forget that the unemployment numbers don’t reflect the millions of people who have been out of work so long they have literally stopped looking for work because they feel they have lost so much time they aren’t even marketable anymore.
Point is simple. The narrative that the economy is turning around is not something the GOP need argue with because we will look like we are rooting against America, as silly as that prospect sounds. We should welcome the recovery but argue that it hasn’t been swift enough nor has it helped enough people and we don’t have time to wait anymore. We need change. Change we can believe in. We need hope. Hope that someone will come in to Washington and get the economy recovering faster. Yes, the economy is improving, but it’s improving much too slowly for the millions of people still out of work; the millions of people being forced to move in with Mom & Dad again; and the millions of people whose homes are still under water. And only by changing Presidents can we usher in the real economic roar.