Posted 07:05 PM ET
In stump speeches and interviews, the candidate hammered home the message that an Obama administration would bring change — although he wasn't always so clear on what kind of change it would be.
Four years later, with Obama running for re-election, it's time to ask Americans: How's that change workin' out for you?
Let's see how Obama's policies are changing the economy — after all, it affects nearly all of us.
In the past four years, recession ended but growth has been anemic, averaging 2.3%, the slowest recovery in modern times.
After the recession of the early 1980s, the economy roared ahead at a robust 6.1%. Deep recessions usually yield big bouncebacks — not this time, though.
As for employment, in December 2008, the month before Obama took office, 143,328,000 people had jobs in the U.S.
In August, 142,101,000 people did — 1.227 million fewer. Three years into recovery, the U.S. unemployment rate still lingers above 8%.
The Obama presidency has been particularly hard on black workers, who this year face jobless rates 7.8% higher than whites, up from 4.9% in 2008 (see charts, above).
Losing a job hurts more. The share of the unemployed out of work for a year or more jumped from 11.8% in the first quarter 2009 to 29.5% in the first quarter 2012 (see charts).
In raw numbers, that's an increase in long-term unemployed from 1.6 million in early 2009 to 3.6 million today.
Many Americans have simply given up hope of finding jobs — the share of the population actively in the labor force has fallen from about 66% in early 2009 to less than 64% today.
Job creation has been slow, averaging 129,000 a month since the low point in December 2009.
It would take an average of 136,000 net new jobs a month to restore the employment situation of December 2007 and absorb the subsequent population growth — so at the Obama pace of job creation, we'd never get back to where we were.
Obama's change hasn't been good for families' pocketbooks.
According to Sentier Research, real median household incomes have fallen from $55,587 at the end of 2008 to $50,964 in June 2012. Real median net worth has plunged 40% (see charts).
That's what you get with high unemployment, stagnant wages and low interest rates.
In the Obama years, government spending and borrowing have gotten out of control. In the past four years, America's fiscal deficits have ballooned to 8% to 10% of GDP — levels exceeded only in fighting WWI and WWII.
The country is plunging into debt, with 2009-12 borrowing hitting $5.86 trillion.
It took 205 years for America to run up its first $5 trillion in national debt; it's taken less than four years for the most recent $5 trillion.
A few years ago, America's deficit of 2% of GDP and debt of 60% of GDP was similar to that of Germany, the European Union's bastion of fiscal rectitude; now, this country looks more like Greece, the EU's basket case.
Our debt-to-GDP ratio is now rising above 100%, a level where it begins to burden growth.
Some may argue that Obama took office in the midst of an epochal financial crisis, with an economy hurtling downhill. Fair enough — as far as it goes.
But after four years, that excuse rings hollow. Obama's record suggests he won't put into place policies that foster economic growth and job creation.
Even worse, Obama gives us scant hope for better times on his watch. He's the godfather of big government policies that burden the economy — a new health care system that will add punishing costs to hiring and small business and financial regulations that will stifle lending.
Obama promised change. And indeed the economy has changed.
How's that change workin' out for you?