Am I better off?
By La Quita Barnes Lane
It is apparent that our nation is divided with two opposing visions and ideologies of how our country should invest, or not invest in itself, and what direction it should take. It stands in the center of the road of contrast with one sign pointing to a forward movement, to a future embracing the 21st century with its growth of population and global world views and a second sign pointing to a backward movement, a return to the past of the 20th century with its separated society and isolated cold war world views.
With so much at stake we must set our personal emotions, judgments, and biases of self-interest aside and ask ourselves pertinent questions about our nation and the direction of our society. “Do we move forward or do we go back?” “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” “Have you become an extremist?” “Do you want to live in a shared governmental society or an exclusive governmental society?” These are the political questions of the moment and with the impending November vote, the Nation’s history awaits.
The question has been asked; “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” My answer to this question is an affirmative, resounding YES! Four years ago starting this month our nation’s economy began its downward fall. It was falling fast and furiously accelerating with every moment. Invested monies, the securities of home and the future were being lost at a rapid rate with no end in sight. Everyone was on a path toward losing everything. The economic fall was not discriminating. The domino effect was in motion. How fast you fell was dependent on how your monies and equities had been invested. One thing was for sure; everyone was losing his or her investments. The nation’s economy was in free fall heading for a crash of unparallel proportions in our modern day society. We had become an economic hurricane with potential to draw in our global neighbors and economically destabilize the already fragile nations of the world. We were in an unequivocal economic mess, and therefore I know I am better off than I was four years ago.
I give my thanks, gratitude, and blessings to our country’s duly appointed President – Barack Obama. He rallied himself with the nation’s economic experts, he weighed and measured all the pros and cons and came to pragmatic solutions. The most urgent solution was how to stop the free fall before it resulted in an economic crash and nationwide depression. He took measures that we may not have agreed with, but his first goal was to stop the fiscal free fall.
The auto industry bail outs, bank bail outs, and a stimulus plan helped save 3.9 million private sector jobs and saved more than one million jobs in the auto industry. The stimulus plan was too weak in monetary spending to create full recovery but it was enough to halt and stabilize the free fall. The stimulus was enough to reverse the direction and begin a fragile, wavering slow climb to recovery. Today the market is still fragile but it has steadily climbed back to where it was four years ago, some investments have been fully recovered, but we still have a long way to go. One thing we have learned about Wall Street is that its fickle, everything effects it, nationally and internationally. It no longer earns our respect or trust.
Housing markets and jobs are sluggish but they are making a steady comeback. If Congress would have worked with the President and passed the Job’s Recovery Act our nation would have been in the position of full recovery. I am grateful to President Obama’s stimulus plan, the bailouts, and for the Wall Street reforms. It stopped the nation’s economic free fall without a crash and reversed the motion to a foundation of slow steadiness. Obama’s stimulus plan worked! Due to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, I know I am better off than I was four years ago.
Four years ago the price of health insurance policies was soaring and insurance companies could drop you, or raise your rates, on any health issue which they considered a pre-existing condition. Health insurance rates were rising at a rate of 20%; they were out of control with no control in sight. They were raising premiums as fast and as furiously as Wall Street was falling. If you were able to hold on to your health insurance policies they were breaking the household budget. Most had to give up their health premiums and join the growing numbers of the uninsured. Insurance was unaffordable. That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about – how to offer a nation of people health insurance at an affordable rate and stopping insurance companies from dropping coverage when you get sick. Yes, President Obama cares; he cares about our nation and its health. It was the responsible thing to do. I applaud him for caring about the health of the middle class and the poor. I applaud him for the restrictions he put on health insurance companies, for they were monopolizing and bulling their recipients. He took a 716 million dollar burden away from you and me, the recipients, and passed on that responsibility to the providers, the insurance companies and hospitals. He has expanded health care coverage to 32 million uninsured and offers more coverage in the future.
Greed has taken over the insurance companies as much as it has Wall Street. Their only goal is how to maximize their profits leaving their investors broke and in ill health. I am grateful to President Obama for his initiative to save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and to make it more assessable to senior citizens. He closed the Medicare “donut hole” to provide prescription medication to seniors at generic costs. Seniors were at the mercy of pharmaceutical companies charging extraordinary prices for their drugs, medicines that alleviated some pain and suffering – medicines that could help keep people alive. The pharmaceutical companies showed no mercy, their greed had joined with the health insurance companies and Wall Street. They were all out of control and dismantling our economy with their greed.
I tip my hat to President Obama for saying “no” to the greed of monopolizing corporations as he started laying the foundations for landmark Wall Street reform and regulations. Like the reform that ended hidden fees and unfair penalties for credit card users. He challenged these financial giants in the interest of the American people. He knows the corporate giants rule with fault and folly and that it is the middle class and the poor that loses and subsequently suffers.
I salute President Obama on his Foreign Affairs Polices. Four years ago we were engaged in two wars with no exit strategy. Wars can bankrupt a nation, especially when there’s no end in sight and you’re not winning. Terrorism, the new enemy, was spreading and making great attempts at terrorizing all nations. Their causes, effects, and demands are “extreme.” He has systematically eliminated 29 of the worlds’ most terrorizing Al Qaeda leaders including Bin Laden, the mastermind of 9-11. He pursued our nation’s enemies and weakened their organizations. Fighting terrorism will be an ongoing battle, terrorists are like the head of the “Hydra,” you cut off one head and another one grows. Our traditional ways of fighting our enemies and how we engage in war is outdated. New technologies and techniques must be innovative in their engagement.
President Obama, as Commander and Chief for the last four years, is the only President that has credible experience in fighting terrorism. Four years ago our global relations were on the cool side with most nations. “Shock and Awe” had side effects that rippled around the world and made nations distrust us. I applaud the President for choosing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Together they have shown great diplomacy around the world. President Obama worked hard and decisively to end the war in Iraq. He is working even harder at ending the war in Afghanistan. He knows the longer we stay we become enmeshed, embroiled, and trapped in a foreign country at war where there is no end. He is trying to bring our troops home.
When our soldiers arrive home President Obama has provided new programs for the long road of recovery and rehabilitation for the soldiers and their families. He has also provided incentives to hire veterans. President Obama as Commander and Chief has earned my trust. He is a man with strong convictions, he is strong in his appearance, he is strong in his diplomacy, he is pragmatic and decisive, and he cares with compassion about the solders under his command. I admire a President who will work towards diplomacy with the nations of the world, and who shares a worldview toward peaceful negotiations, diplomacy and democracy. He is a President with enough wisdom to know that the path to peace is methodical, careful, slow to earn trust, and he understands the diversity of all nations. We are a global community.”
The President is passionate about saving education. He has the knowledge that the true wealth and future of a nation is through education. He has the understanding that education keeps a country out of poverty. He has the wisdom to offer education to all and to recognize that it is a civil right. If we would become a country without education then we would decline and become a third world society. He has supported nearly 300,000 jobs in education and continues promoting its importance. President Obama knows that above all else that public education and higher education is crucial for a nation’s future.
I give President Obama credit for his work on immigration reform. He has deported illegal aliens at record high numbers and the number of border agents is also at a record high. The President knows that the continuation of building a border wall is frivolous and a huge waste of taxpayer money. He also knows that you must embrace the complex diversities of immigrants. The “Dream Act” a good and fair bill that didn’t get passed by congress, but it was the beginning of recognition. President Obama was able to give a two-year reprieve to young immigrants that was brought into this country by their parents and have been raised in this country as an American. I agree with the President when he stated, “It was the responsible thing to do.” I believe he displayed mercy and compassion with his decision; he has the wisdom to know that you can’t hold the children responsible for their parent’s migration. Foundations for immigration reform are being addressed.
I give great admiration to President Obama for recognizing that the world, and its nations of people, is a global community. If we are to preserve the earth on which we live we must work together. We must learn to respect the environment. We must learn to respect our resources. We must learn to respect the living world and all its diversity of life. The earth is running out of its resources, its environment is polluted and nature is stressed to its maximum, global warming is being seen and felt around the world. President Obama sees the impact man is having upon the earth and the problems that are being created. He has foresight about the world’s impending destabilization and knows that the nations of the world must come together to incorporate new reusable energies, to recycle the garbage of man and to reduce the waste of everything. President Obama has supported 224,500 jobs in the clean energy industry, brought oil imports to the lowest level in 16 years and he has put us on the road to nearly double fuel efficiency. Preserving the earth and its environment is a stewardship that the President feels responsibility for. President Obama is a compassionate human being; he not only cares about our nation and its people, he cares about the global nations and their people, and he embraces the earth and its living diversity.
When we as citizens of the United States pay our taxes, our taxes then become the means by which our nation economically succeeds or fails. When our tax dollars are reinvested and circulated in our society then our country prospers. When our tax dollars are restricted and not circulated, then our society depresses. Our country is in great need of tax reform; the era of Bush tax cuts created a monumental gap between the wealthy and the middle class. The President has stood firm on the belief that the Bush tax cuts should not be extended. I admire President Obama’s persistence and his fight to balance the tax codes. He stands up for the middle class and understands that the wealthy needs to be paying their appropriate tax rates. We cannot continue giving the top 1% extended tax breaks that last for decades. The nation cannot afford this discrepancy – it is economically illogical. We are all accountable for our taxes and all should be paying their fair share.
There are two ideologies governing how our tax dollars should be spent. One is a broader coalition government that encompasses all of society and helps its people by reinvesting their tax dollars in the form of entitlements, subsidies, and grants. President Obama believes the nation remains strong when you invest in the people of the middle class, the wage earners and job creators.
The second Ideology is an individualized government. It believes that our tax dollars should only be spent on military, police and judiciary; the rest of society is motivated by self-interest and a laissez faire attitude with no regulations. This government is ruled by a handful of the wealthy (oligarchy) that would be in control of our economy and determining the politics of the nation.
Mitt Romney believes in a government ruled by the exclusive and the elite. He has stated that he is not concerned about the poor and that the 47% of the population is a lost cause. He believes that the wealthy should not be taxed, giving the burden to the middle class. He believes his wealth makes him unanswerable for his taxes. He believes that it is all right and good to hide his money in foreign bank accounts and not reinvest his tax dollars in America. He believes that he is above transparency, honesty and integrity. He believes in offering no apologies and facts are not important to him. Indicating he lacks mercy, compassion, and humility: the virtues that make Presidents good leaders for the people, and a good Commander and Chief. On these issues alone I could not give my vote to Mitt Romney. He would take our nation into despair, depreciating the poor and middle class leaving only the wealthy to thrive and prosper.
I choose to vote for President Obama because he champions and embraces all the people of America. He passionately cares about our civil rights, liberties and justices. He has laid foundations for a stronger economy and has reformed and regulated Wall Street so that the American people can began to invest again. He works toward equality and has the vision that can move our country forward into the 21st century. He is a President that cares about his country and its people. He is American – all American and for America.