"Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." ~ Viktor Frankl
Complaining about the economy, followed by blaming a politician, makes one weaker and less free by unwittingly handing over more power to politicians.
The question, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" implies that some other human being on the earth, the political leader of a nation, can decide your financial well-being or, even worse and adding insult to injury, that someone other than yourself can be the provider of your total well-being.
Equally, praising a politician for financial fortune undercuts your own ability to grow. The praise implies you are not the master of your own fate. You have imprisoned yourself; you have shackled yourself in chains and handed the keys to someone else; and then you blame them for not giving you back the keys.
"How unreasonable people are! They never use the freedoms they have but demand those they do not have; they have freedom of thought—they demand freedom of speech." ~ Soren Kierkegaard
To be honest, I once used the excuse, "The recession made XYZ more difficult" or equal and opposite, "XYZ was better before the recession." Notice that I use the word excuse, which is just what it is--an excuse.
Yes, economic conditions on a large scale do have far reaching impact. But why hold yourself (and your friends, family and the entire nation) down by looking to politicians for salvation? As a whole, they are a class of human beneath us all. They are fully aware of human weakness--the desire to be told what to do, to be inspired, to look to them as the enablers of dreams--and they exploit the weakness for their own purposes.
"The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering." ~ Ram Dass
In difficult economic times, the submission to suffering, rather than recognizing it as a natural process--no different than the ebs and flows of the ocean--by refusing to embrace the transience. You thus defeat yourself and perpetuate the very condition you complain about while attempting to overcome the rip current by swimming against it.
This is not to say that the conditions of recession are not difficult. When you are running at full speed and stumble over a bump in the road, there is no question that the bump was there, only you did not see it coming, and perhaps you were injured. Your choice at that moment is to lay there or to get up, even if you are unable to run at first.
Recessions do exist but only you make them real; only you allow them to persist; participation in recession is voluntary; and your economic well-being, even that of a nation, is not something that can be created or destroyed by the will of those in political power.
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
The real influences of a nation's economy--the entrepreneurs, the innovators, the hands-on parents, the coaches, the teachers, the artists, the individuals--you--succeed not because of political policy but in spite of it--one succeeds when one recognizes that the true source of power lies within oneself, and that there are no failures--there are only opportunities for growth.