Do you know what a gallon of gasoline cost on the day Barack Obama was sworn into office Jan. 20, 2009? $1.84.
That's the last time we saw gasoline prices that low. They've been skyrocketing ever since — exceeding $4 in many locales and averaging $3.83 nationwide yesterday.
Food prices are up. Heating and cooling expenses are up. Unemployment is up. The number of food stamp recipients is way up — from 32 million to nearly 47 million today. Americans receiving unemployment benefits are up — from 12 million to approximately 14 million.
But the real story there is the number of long-term unemployed — many of whom are no longer eligible for benefits. It was less than 2.7 million Jan. 20, 2009. Today it is 5.4 million.
The number of poor people, as defined by the federal government, is up by 5 million since January 2009.
The national debt is up $5 trillion.
Some things did fall after Obama took office — like incomes. The median income in the U.S. Jan. 20, 2009, was north of $50,000. Since then it has dropped to $46,500. It's hard to imagine how Obama could run on that record and succeed. Is this the change Obama promised?
I always believed it was precisely what Obama had in mind. His own energy secretary, in a moment of candor, told Americans the administration's policy was to push gas prices higher. That was true of Democrats going back to Al Gore — maybe earlier.
Could it be Obama also intended to create more misery for the American people as a matter of policy? Could he possibly have done any more to achieve that objective? Could it be he actually sees political advantage in making more Americans dependent on government?
The answer to all three of those rhetorical questions is yes. That's the Saul Alinsky plan. That's the Cloward-Piven plan. That's the Obama playbook.
Will enough Americans awaken in the next eight months to stop this miserable, Marxist social experiment? That's the key question.
Sadly, as we learned in 2008, it takes a worthy Republican candidate to beat a Democratic demagogue such as Obama. And we are in danger of not seeing a credible Republican alternative at the top of the ticket.
Mitt Romney cannot win. If he is the nominee, Obama will have to defeat himself — self-destruct, implode.
There are several reasons for this:
— Many Americans still don't know how bad they have it, thanks to a media full-court press to make him look like a saint.
— Romney is the dream opponent for a class warrior such as Obama — a billionaire, Mormon, Wall Street tycoon with a record of enacting policies that bear a striking resemblance to those of Obama.
— Obama will have a $1 billion campaign war chest to take Romney apart — an advantage none of the Republican challengers for the nomination have.
So the question of whether Americans are better off than they were four years ago may not resonate quite as effectively as it did when Ronald Reagan employed it with perfection in 1980. The numbers may be even more striking than they were back then and the misery index even higher, but Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan.
In fact, he may not even be as strong as John McCain, who bested Romney in 2008.
But it's not too late for Republicans in remaining primary and caucus states to provide America with a clearer choice.
My personal favorite is Rick Santorum, but I urge Republicans everywhere to get out to vote and choose anyone but Romney. Don't believe the so-called "experts" who tell you he is the most electable of the Republican candidates. It's just not so.
Romney will fall far short of election victory as the Republican nominee because he can't even carry the Republican base, which is absolutely essential to defeating Obama — unless, of course, Obama defeats himself.
Do you want to count on that?
To find out more about Joseph Farah and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.