In 2008 I lost my job, and a third of my IRA, and 40% of the value of my home, almost over night. This is the folly of Bush 43, and Clinton years earlier when he repealed the Glass-Stagall Act. Like millions of Americans, I could not afford to pay my mortgage, nor could I sell my home, as it was up-side down. President Obama put programs in place to help those who were crushed by the crash of 2008. Like the Iraq War and other preexisting nightmares, Obama didn't create this economic mess, but he did everything he could to clean it up. One of his programs made it possible for me to short-sell my home, wherein the government made up the difference between the low market price and the mortgage. If not for this program, I would have a foreclosure on my record. You'll see, 5 years down the line, what a difference that makes.
Short sales existed before, but they were difficult to obtain, and the government often taxed the seller for the "gift" that the government graciously provided. Well if I can't pay the mortgage, I can't pay taxes on an extra $25,000 of income that I never saw. President Obama made sure these benefits were not taxed.
President Obama extended unemployment benefits for those who lost their jobs. Unemployment isn't much, but sometimes it makes the difference between food and no food. Unemployment normally expires in 20 weeks, but my benefits continued months after this deadline, because Obama cares about working class people.
For years I tried to purchase health coverage for my wife Wendy, even though I probably couldn't afford the premiums. Affordability was moot however, because she was deemed "uninsurable" due to her fibroids. Fibroids are benign tissue in the uterus that some women live with for decades without consequence. In other words, it's not cancer, it's not aids, and it is certainly no reason to disqualify a person from coverage; but not a single company would insure her, no matter how much money I put on the table. (Preexisting conditions and all that rot.) People complain about the government controlling healthcare; the only thing worse is a for-profit company controlling healthcare, and you really have to choose between the two. Thanks to Obama's Affordable Care Act, Wendy was covered, and just in time too. She fell and broke her leg, and the medical bills, including weeks of physical therapy, topped $20,000. Under George Bush, or Donald Trump, or just about any other president, we would have had to come up with that money or leave Wendy in a wheelchair for life. Every time she takes a step I am grateful for Obama's leadership, and for a Congress that was willing to pass some form of healthcare legislation, albeit imperfect.
Twenty million folks are currently enrolled in ObamaCare, and many of them could tell a similar story, including my cousin, who is battling cancer. For her, politics is personal, a matter of life and death. We need to cover our people, all of our people; it's morally correct, and fiscally correct in the long run. We need a social compact. In contrast, Trump, with the support of a republican congress, threatens to pull us back into the pit of laissez-faire capitalism, away from universal healthcare and away from sanity. Curtailing healthcare for all these people is tantamount to genocide, and anyone, from any party, who votes for that should be immediately recalled from office and charged with murder. Donald Trump: Make America Sick Again.
Along with the broken leg, my wife, son, and daughter have had other medical issues, some requiring hospitalization. Together these represent another $12,000, and none of this would be covered if it wasn't for the Affordable Care Act.
By supporting the auto industry, and thereby protecting 7.25 million jobs, Obama may have averted the next Great Depression. (We were already in the midst of a deep recession.) We weren't sure at the time, but any economist, from any party, would look back with the benefit of hindsight and say that was the right thing to do - just as George Bush did the right thing (choke it down everybody) when he bailed out the reckless, thieving banks in 2008.
In 2016 my Mom died, and I could no longer live rent-free in her basement. I had to scramble for housing for my entire family, six people and a dog. I live on disability; it's not much. A house that would hold all of us, plus utilities, would surely cost $1,400 or more per month, right? No, because of an FHA loan that my realtor arranged. Once again the government helps us in ways that companies can't, or won't. Of course FHA loans predated Obama, but he made them more accessible to more people. Beyond this, I could not have obtained this loan if I had a foreclosure on my record. Perhaps with a little luck I might have obtained a mortgage from a private bank, but it would probably be 7 or 8 percent variable, instead of 4.25% fixed. That is unaffordable on my limited income, and I would probably default on the home within a year. It's hard to place a dollar value on having a home for my entire family, versus being homeless on the street. Thank you, President Obama.
My daughter is about to graduate with quite a bit of student loan debt. Obama passed a law saying student loan payments should not exceed 10% of income. Like many others, my daughter is not likely to garner a high salary right off the bat. This guideline could spell the difference between solvency and insolvency.
My son, and the parents of my granddaughter, are openly gay. Instead of fearing for their safety, they are now accepted by most of the public, and they can even participate in same-sex marriage, thanks in large part to Obama. He promotes a message of tolerance, acceptance, and a celebration of our differences, which is America at its best. Contrast this with the irrational hate speech and fear mongering that constantly flows from Trump's mouth. That is America at its worst. Heed once again the words of George W. Bush, just 9 days after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. In this regard, Bush and Obama are very much alike, speaking with one voice - while Trump is from some other planet.
"I ask you to uphold the values of America and remember why so many have come here. We're in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith."
This is of course one family's perspective, my perspective. No doubt there are people who were harmed by some of Obama's policies. Even my daughters; they can't get more than 20 hours of work because small businesses can't afford the healthcare tax on fulltime employees. Everything you do in Washington hurts somebody and helps somebody else; you just hope you are helping more people, and that the harm done is minimal, e.g. a tad more tax on the über-rich. That's the goal, and I believe Obama met the challenge moreso than other presidents in the past. At the end of the day, I shouldn't just write a tribute to the man, I should erect a statue - and so should most of you. As I think about Obama's legacy, I am reminded of an anecdote from 1945. After FDR's death, a spectator, watching the funeral procession, fell to his knees in grief. Another man helped him to his feed.
"Did you know President Roosevelt?", ask the second man with concern.
"No," said the first, "but he knew me."
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