Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is in the midst of a two-day campaign swing through Iowa, repeating the refrain Ronald Reagan used in the 1980 campaign: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

“Jimmy Carter was fired in 1980 and Ronald Reagan was hired,” Ryan said. “If you take a look at the jobs record, Jimmy Carter was even better than Barack Obama.”

Ryan arrived in Iowa this afternoon, speaking to about a thousand people in a Cedar Rapids gymnasium.

“Obamanomics is not working — more bankruptcies, more delinquent mortgages, higher unemployment. When it comes to jobs, President Obama makes the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days,” Ryan said, laughing. “If we fired Jimmy Carter then, why would we rehire Barack Obama now?”

Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman who chairs the Budget Committee in the U.S. House, also called Tuesday’s report that the federal debt is now above 16 trillion dollars a “bit of a downer” and the crowd booed the news.

“This is a serious threat to our economy,” Ryan said. “Of all the broken promises from President Obama, this is probably the worst one because this debt is threatening jobs today, is threatening prosperity today and it is guaranteeing that our children and grandchildren get a diminished future.”

The Obama campaign accuses Ryan of being guilty for adding to the national debt himself by supporting deficit spending during Republican George W. Bush’s two terms.

During his speech in Cedar Rapids, Ryan played up his Midwest roots as a native of Janesville, Wisconsin, and the “bragging rights” of being a “shirt-tail relative” of Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Prize winner from Iowa.

Ryan landed in Des Moines this evening and is scheduled to speak at the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel tomorrow morning.