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The state of Ohio: Are recent economic gains helping struggling Americans?

While ten states will vote in next week’s Super Tuesday GOP primary, there’s one whose importance stands head and shoulders above the rest: Ohio.  Winning Ohio next Tuesday and then again in November is crucial. No candidate in the last 40 years has won the presidency without winning Ohio.

Over the last six months, correspondent John Larson and I have been regularly going to Ohio and reporting on the lives of four middle-class Ohioans.  Even though they all have regular jobs, own homes and cars, and by all outward appearances appear to be doing just fine in this economy, we’d argue that their experiences trying to survive will make it hard for any presidential candidate to really earn their support.

These four people share a deep sense of unease that something fundamental has changed in this country. I was raised to believe that you work hard, be a good citizen, do the right things, everything will be fine for you,” says Clyde Wilson, a manufacturing supervisor of over 40 years. “Now it’s not – it’s just gone.  I don’t know where it went. It just blew away.”  Cleveland public school teacher Lee Anne Chambers told us that she doesn’t think any political leader can understand what middle-class workers like her experience. “I don’t know if they can see it,” she says. “They live a lifestyle and a life where they never have to want for anything.  I don’t think they…could even come close to walking in my shoes or understanding what I’m going through.”

Just last week, we went back again to Cuyahoga County to revisit these four and bring you up to date on what’s happening in their lives, and how they’re viewing the presidential race. Here’s our update:


  • Brit Twit

    Why doesn’t NPT suggest the US pass laws for equal benefits for part timers/ temps (say 1/2 benefits if you work 20-hours a week, or 2/3-benefits if you work 30-hours a week)?  No, the only thing NPT does is show downer ‘wo is me stories’

  • Kitty Montoya

    there are millions of ppl out there in the USA, including almost ALL of the politicians currently running for office, who have NO CLUE AT ALL how bad the economy really is, and who do not grasp the overwhelming struggles it is causing to families, children, your neighbor, your former co-worker, etc. the news keeps trying to cheer everyone up by announcing that “unemployment is dropping” and “the recession is over” but it is a complete lie, TOTAL BULLSHIT. unemployment figures are INCORRECT and completely skewed. no one is taking into account the ppl who are NO LONGER receiving unemployment benefits but have yet to find a job. those ppl are simply invisible. that subject was addressed a couple weeks ago on 60 minutes and i almost cried at how amazing it was that SOMEONE out there was talking about it.   it is also addressed tonight on a PBS program entitled “Need To Know”.

  • Sagefeldemeyer

    Why on earth would any of these working people support the TP/GOP!  They hate working people;  don’t be fooled that because Romney is a ‘businessman’, he’s going to turn the economy around.  It won’t happen!!!  Just look at Bain Capital, and Romney’s imprint;  he basically took GOOD jobs and destroyed them–lots of layoffs (improving the bottom line), and that is why we have the economy we do.  Workers are expendable;  politicians are bought by Wall Street, which screws workers.

  • Annonymosdfsdfsd

    All of these losers are sickening. They all are obviously very well fed, have cars and pretty big sized houses. But they’re whining about how millionaires never know what “want” is. Wow it’s unbelievable. 

  • Sfljdsl

     Obama just loves the non-working even more you idiot. That’s why all of these losers are on welfare for ever and aren’t even required to prove they’re looking for work. “Obama gonna pay my mortgage and fill my gas tank” says the typical Obama voting moron.

  • JoseR

    There is still a lot of work to be done in order to reverse the damage and trends created by the Bush/GOP dark ages criminal admin. A lot of work went to save the country, auto industry, banking, security etc…What we cannot afford is to return to the failed GOP fiscal ideology and practices that created the mess to begin with. Remember, GOP took a country with historic surpluses and in eight years 90% of all the riches are now owned by the top little or no tax paying 10% and the country was left in near bankruptcy. The rest are details and pretexts, Fact is GOP fiscal philosophies have been  proven to be wrong but they intend to fix the problems they themselves created by continue to do the same that created it in the first place. 

  • StephanieA

    Sadly, this video did not mention the ONE presidential candidate who predicted and warned of this economic crisis, Ron Paul. Disappointingly, this video did not mention the ONE candidate who has been fighting for less government, which is necessary for small businesses to thrive. Unfortunately, this video did not mention the ONE presidential candidate who has been consistently confronting the FED for 30 years, because they have devalued our dollar to the point that it is nearly worthless; they have essentially counterfeited money by printing it when there is no real gold to back it up; and, they have done all of this to finance wars we can’t afford that aren’t constitutional, along with spreading globalization. PBS, why not do a piece on the ONE candidate who has been fighting for the little man, his rights, his small business growth, and the power of his dollar? 

  • BVA

    Note to producers and writers:  The narrator asserted something about one of the show’s subjects losing faith in government.  How many people whose automobile just UN-successfully underwent repairs lament having lost faith in mechanical tools and diagnostic electronics?!!  Not many at all.  What they lose faith in is the mechanic or mechanics doing the diagnosis and the repairs! 

    Government is just a tool.  The political parties are the mechanics working to diagnose and repair your economy.  When one of the mechanics, working on your economy, doesn’t want your economy to be completely restored to proper working order just yet, he may withhold effort, or even actively misdiagnose or sabotage the repair(s). 

    Misconception and mystery solved!

  • Ematarese

    I was extremely moved by this weeks reportage. My heart went out when the man had to sell one of his dogs. It is like selling one of your children. I am of the generation of this man and the teacher. We were born during the 50′s and promised that our County was invincible and quicky forgot the lessons of humility and sobering up from the Korean War. Since that war we have been on this pointless exercise in Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan to try and prove we are still the supreme leader, judge and police of this word. That we are some kind of Empire and like each empire there is eventually a moment when it loses its critical mass and falls in decline. One of those most recent declines are the financial and real estate crisis. Now the rich live off the back of the middle class which is erroding and as a result my generation is found in a limbo which I can best describe as “being redundant”. We are not special. We are not acknowledged except as a unemployment claim on which the market will either sell off or be in a buying frenzy. There are no “blue chip” stock, companies, products nor gold standard.
    It isn’t that I am a nay sayer but rather pragmatic about where the United States stands in terms of economic and political supremacy. We are just as subject to change as those dictators who the US put into power and now have been removed by the Arab Spring. Our government can posture and speak out for other autrosities while we ignore out own.
    Frankly, I’m sick of hearing how America is going to be brought back to where it was some decades before. This is not the American Century. This is China, India and developing countries Century where monetary manipulation and slave labor abounds so we can buy our necessities from the 99 cent stores. I feel for these people in Ohio because it is the testiment of the dillusions we are being fed during this presidential campagne about resilliency and how our country will rise up and be as great as we wish to fantasize from our history books. The fact remains that most of the US is owned and in debt to the rest of the world and especially our so called Communist advisaries.
    The polarity in Congress which is totally insentive to the needs of the average American citizen whether a millionaire or on food stamps is evidence of our decline. What these politicians are principally motivated by is “Super Packs” and not the individual voter. The mentality of the “Super Packs” is as corrupt as any Putin relection. As individuals we are “redundant”. We are out paces by our own technology yet still engulfed in a “paperless adverse” working environment. We are out paced by global manufacturing greed which supported off shoring and left this county with nothing but a very complicated and multi platform marketing spying so companies can focus on our our Achillie’s heal and get us to consume. Wall Street thrives only on consumption and deregulation.
    It has gotten so bad that every day I must worry about the inevidability that soon I will not know where my next meal is coming from. Yet I’m supposedly living the American Dream now one notch above living in Homs Syria where the only thing that distinguishes my government is that the Congress has not enacted legislation to consolidate the voters and created work camps of extermination! My nephew are not seeing their careers in America but planing their studies so they can be flexible and work overseas for whomever will pay a decent wage for their extremely expensive college education.
    America is not at a new crossroad in our evolution. We are now just as “redundant” a nation as our partners. This is exemplified by the disfunctional and powerless United Nations.
    Instead of worrying about some American come back. I think we need to sober up to the fact that we are the future for baby boomers is not bright. I agree with the teacher when she says that no politician will feel her pain. They simply can’t. They are simply a product of broken dreams and ideologies which haven’t been around since the end of World War Two. As working poor we are in a bubble that will pop and force the world to reassess its priorities whether it is to save Greece or let civilians be cleansed by their own leaders.
    We are the “redundants” and not the successful middle class we were expected to become by our parents, society and most especially ourselves. The longer we live in this “dry drunk” the longer we prevent our own economic sobriety!

  • boo hoo

     Looks like that lard butt ate a few of them too.

  • it’s my parents faul boo hoo

     It’s Bush’s fault! Stupid hippies. Why not realize this Obama xxx is going nowhere and blaming everyone else for your problems is getting old.

  • boo hoo

    DEM DAR BLACK FOKE don’t look too hungry but sure do like to whine too!

  • J.V.Hodgson

    This reporting shows the fallacy of some of the so called American dream.
    1 star of the show whose husbands meds now cost $1000 per month for her husband who has had a stroke.
    Another who is night shifting and earning less than he used to ( but says he’ll vote Republican defeats me, actually not he thinks he ‘ll pay less tax) is not facing his reality as his Job is not permanent and has less chance of being so under Romney.
    The small business couple toughed it out and things are picking up, and despite social beliefs will still vote Obama again. Obama has done OK for small business owners. Social/ religious ideas too important in US voting.
    My point if you are earning $50k or less it really does not pay to vote Republican especially if you are anti war. The bottom line is America needs to get out of all wars and spend that saving on education and infrastructure, and like it or not there has been over the last 10 years a huge re-distribution of wealth in the US. ( if that is not class warfare I dont know what is) and the only way to redress that and help reduce budget deficits and overall national debt growth is to increase INCOME taxes on the over 250K earners and also the tax rates on dividend income to 20 % and capital gains to 30 % these two rates are the norm in almost all developed and western economies. Some of the increased income can go to alternative energy projects.
    You also tax wise have to look at the Tax give backs to corporations and individuals cost around $600bn p.a I hear….. cut them all unless they give relief to those earning less ( or have total income) less tha $150K pa. or $200K married couple. That can go to debt reduction.
    Time to get Mr and Mrs average income earner maybe even paying federal tax spending again  the latter spending being 65% of US GDP and QED a key and most effective way/ways to reducing debt.

  • dk1967

    I wonder if the guy in the screen above realizes that his Republican Party has always fought against and would eliminate the minimum wage because its “bad for business.” Sure would like to see him get buy on what the average Chinese factory worker earns. 

  • frankj

    You are wrong prove it 

  • frankj

    It my parents faul boo boo you are wrong prove it 

  • frankj

    You are wrong prove it 

  • Katefiorillo

    Lee Anne, my heart and prayers go out to you.  I wish I could afford to hire you or write you a check to help with your and your husband’s bills.

    I know mere words aren’t much comfort, but I hope it helps to know that so many others are rooting for you and you are not alone in your daily struggles!!!

  • Brwstac

    Hope you find yourself in their boat soon.  Maybe then you’d learn some empathy.  Their homes, cars, etc. where from a time when they had a good paying job.  If you really listened to the show, you’d understand that they are on the cusp of loosing these things thanks to being downsized.

  • Brwstac

    I work at a temp and that’ll be the day the politicians (who are cosily in bed with big business) tells employers to give us benefits. To be a temporary employee means you have nothing benefit-wise.

  • AntiGOP

    This mess began with Reagan and his trickle down voodoo economics. The subsequent republicans blindly continued along that same faulty path. Clinton turned it around and the imbecile shrub jr, squandered it all and left the American people holding the bag !

  • ForWhomTheBellTolls

    I agree with the empathetic comments posted here and naturally have nothing but disdain for the
    heartless and reactionary ones.

    But the main reason I write is to make public my disappointment in need to know for spending more
    than 18 minutes re-running the stories for the third time since their first showing and only giving
    less than 10 minutes of actual updates!

    As dedicated viewers who have watched every show since need to know was first broadcast,
    my wife and I think this is O.K. for viewers who are just watching for the first time but is tantamount
    to an insult to, and waste of time for, those of us who already know the stories by heart.

    I sent an e-mail making this point directly to need to know, but I have received no response and
    have no idea if the producers plan to address this issue, at least by noting at the beginning of a show that it will be almost a total re-broadcast and that the update won’t come until the 20th minute, or whenever.

    This is is the very least need to know should do, unless it has no concern for wasting loyal viewers’
    time.  If any staff member reads this post, it would be only simple courtesy to give an on-line response.

    it is very strange that such a cutting-edge and beautifully produced show could treat its most loyal
    viewers in such a cavalier — even though unintentional — way!