It doesn't matter how you spin it. Like his poppy, George W. Bush's domestic policies have been a boon for elite, and a disaster for the rest of us. The number of healthcare uninsured has risen dramatically - over 45 million people are uninsured, and have basically no access to healthcare. More people live in poverty today than the day George Bush took office, and more than anything, this should be a barometer of the success or failure of his policies. It's already well documented (but worth reiterating) that Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover to have presided over a net loss of job creation.
Real wages have decreased significantly in the last four years. Personal bankruptcies are at an all time high. And while the absolutely specious CPI shows inflation basically in check (running somewhere between 2% and 3% per year), you know as well as I do that the cost of everything from gasoline to eggs to healthcare coverage has risen dramatically since 2000.
We're at a critical juncture. In my lifetime at least, the social goal has always been to lift the standard of living for all Americans. George Bush's administration has been the absolute antithesis of this social contract. Every business and labor decision that's been made since he took office has been at the expense of the middle class. Our long, inexorable slide into a two- class state (the haves and have nots) has accelerated dramatically.
Certainly, Bush isn't at lone fault. A GOP controlled Senate and House has aided and abetted the slide. So the vote on November 2 is truly a referendum on the question, "are you better off than you were four years ago?"
Tonight's last debate may very well be the most interesting of the three presidential debates that were scheduled. We're back into a format that does not favor Bush - no questions from the public; no one to overtly badger. If he lunges from behind the podium at either Bob Schieffer or John Kerry, that's it - it's over - but the key remains to see if Bush has any grasp at all of what's happening to regular folks in the country. We already know that bubble boy has no clue - but he'll talk a good game.
There are 19 days to go until the presidential election. John Kerry has to pull out all of his prosecutor's moxy tonight, and go for broke. I truly believe this. There is little time to change more minds. It's a given that Bush will give Sen. Kerry many openings, and Kerry needs to drive an 18 wheeler through each hole at every opportunity offered.
The dynamic of the election was changed with the debate on Sept. 30. Conventional wisdom seems to have coalesced around last Friday night's debate as being a draw. Sen. Kerry needs to continue to keep Bush on the defense, and wait for him to crack - as he surely will.
Join us this evening for live blogging at All Spin Zone - the first three debates have been a lot of fun, and we look forward to you joining us tonight!
In the meantime, a link for you to follow: What Bush Will Say ... What You Should Know, from the American Progress Action Fund.