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Cutter: Country ‘absolutely’ better off than four years ago

President Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, on Monday said the country was “absolutely” better off than four years ago.

“By any measure, the country has moved forward over the last four years,” said Cutter on NBC’s “Today” show, touting 4.5 million private-sector jobs, a revived auto industry and workers’ rising wages.

“It might not be as fast as some people might have hoped — the president agrees with that,” she added. “He knows we need to do more and that’s what his week is about, laying out a roadmap for how we can continue this progress, how we can continue to move this country forward.”

As Democrats meet in Charlotte for their convention, the debate over whether the economy has improved over the last four years has intensified, with Republicans seizing on a remark from a prominent Obama surrogate this weekend saying that voters were not better off.

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley (Md.) was asked during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday if voters were better off compared to four years ago.

“No,” replied O’Malley, “but that’s not the question of this election.

"Without a doubt, we are not as well-off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses," he said.

On Monday, Obama surrogates argued forcefully that the answer was “yes” and that the economy had clearly improved.

“The truth is that the American people know, we were literally a plane — the trajectory was towards the ground,” Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse said on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “He got the stick and pulled us up out of that decline.”

Cutter on Monday said the Democratic convention would “talk about where we’ve been, where we are today and where the president wants to take us in the future.”

She also pressed House Republicans to pass the president’s American Jobs Act, which she said would “create jobs right now for the American people.”

“We need a willing partner on the other side of the Republican Party,” she added. “We don’t have one right now.”

Republicans, though, say they will use the question of whether voters are better off to hit Democrats during their convention week.

“The fundamental question’s back on the table for Americans, which is: Are you better off today than you were four years ago? Issues come and go ... but at the end of the day this is going to be about facts,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

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