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Wednesday, August 05, 2009 | 9:18 AM

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by Andy Ostroy

The Republican party's love affair with former President Ronald Reagan took on Mark Sanford-like Argentinian proportions after eight miserable years of George Bush. To conservatives today, Reagan is God. To Democrats, he's an overrated myth who tripled the deficit and doesn't deserve the hype. But, he was a masterful politician who brilliantly asked Americans during a 1980 televised debate with then-incumbent Jimmy Carter, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" The rest is campaign history.

With the country still reeling from the impact of the worst financial crisis not seen in 80 years, perhaps it's time that that other masterful politician, President Barack Obama, defend his nascent administration's fiscal policies by revisiting and re-phrasing that legendary question: Is the economy stronger now than when Bush left office? It's a really simple question, and one that cuts right through the rampant partisan rhetoric polluting the airwaves today.

So here's a little test for our Republican friends to help them decide the status of the nation's economy. I dare them to answer these questions truthfully, as Americans first, and not as transparent partisan stooges:

1. Is the stock market stronger today than when Bush left office?
2. Is the banking industry stronger than when Bush left office?
3. Are Wall Street companies (JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, etc) doing better today than when Bush left office?
4. Are the credit markets doing better than when Bush left office?
5. Is the auto industry doing better than when Bush left office?
6. Are the housing markets doing better than when Bush left office?
7. Are retailers doing better than when Bush left office?
8. Is the technology industry doing better than when Bush left office?
0. Are monthly jobless claims lower than when Bush left office?
10. Is consumer confidence higher than when Bush left office?

Of course, the answer to every single one of these black and white questions is yes. Conclusion? It's abundantly clear that President Obama's stewardship of the economy has resulted in tremendous improvement from the near-abyss the nation fell into last Fall at the end of Bush's presidency. While Republicans can vehemently criticize Obama's stimulus plan and disingenuously declare its failure all they want, the facts speak for themselves.

Nice work, President Obama. Keep it up. While Republicans may never thank you, their businesses, jobs, homes and savings will.

On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.


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