I was at the National Hispanic Medical Society conference in Washington DC when the House agreed to the Senate's amendment of the Affordable Care Act, on March 23, 2010. The energy and excitement was electrifying! My feelings that day are the same today--the Affordable Care Act is monumental and critical for our country. Indeed, it is one of the primary reasons why I support Obama wholeheartedly.
My favorite facts about the Affordable Care Act:
- Expands health care to 32 MILLION Americans
- Insurance companies are prevented from dropping sick people
- Insurance companies cannot deny children coverage if they have a pre-existing condition
- No lifetime caps on coverage
- Cost: $940bn over 10 years; but it would reduce deficit by $143bn by tackling fraud, abuse, and waste
- Expands women's health preventative coverage, including services such as well-woman visits, mammograms, domestic violence screening, screening for STIs, and access to birth control without charge
Of the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama said "A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, 'Huh. It works. It makes sense.'"
One of the most controversial aspects of the Affordable Care Act is this concept of the "individual mandate" or requiring people to have insurance. The individual mandate is really important because it reduces the overall costs of health care for everyone. But don't take my word for it. Heck, (not h-e-ll, we are mormons after all) don't take Barack Obama's word for it!
"If you don't want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill, because under federal law if someone doesn't have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. So we said, no more, no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility. Either get the insurance or help pay for your care."
Mitt Romney, defending the 2006 Massachusetts Health Reform in a debate with Rick Santorum, Jacksonville, Florida, 1/26/12
YES! More cowbell. At a time when partisan politics have harshly criticized the 2010 US health care reform, I long to hear Mitt Romney defend the Massachusetts Health Reform! I believe there are far more important reasons for health reform (like, uhh, helping people), but it is soooo refreshing to hear it defended in 'Republican speak'.
I'm not the only one who feels good about this. Of Romney's words, Prof. John McDonough from Harvard School of Public Health said, "Romney has given in this entire presidential campaign last evening what I believe is the most effective and persuasive rationale and defense of the individual mandate."
A recent study reports that Taxachusetts (as my in-laws so lovingly call it) is doing very well after the 2006 health initiative. Access to health care remains high, emergency room visits are down, and there has been some improvements in health outcomes.
"I gotta fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!"
President Barack Obama, you gained my (second) vote on March 23, 2010. And I personally thank you for on behalf of all 32 million Americans who will now have access to health care!
Post by Doctor LauraClubFancy, your health care correspondent-
As a proud member of the Religious Left – and a Mormon – I understand that membership in the Church does not require a specific, pre-defined stance on important social issues. That said, I am regularly baffled by the vastly different interpretations that some members of my church arrive at on social issues, when ostensibly working with the same set of religious texts and modern-day revelations that serve to guide my own morals and beliefs.
Many social issues, from capital punishment to war, funding for the social safety net to environmental stewardship, are clearly related to Church doctrines and teachings. Yet the second greatest commandment that we have ever been given, to love our neighbors as ourselves, seems to often be absent from the analysis of social issues by the Religious Right, Church members included.
Add to this list the issue of immigration. The NY Times recently ran a story about how the immigration stance of America’s most well-known Mormon, Mitt Romney, is at odds with the official position of the Church.
The Church recently supported the Utah Compact, a declaration calling for humane treatment of immigrants and condemning deportation policies that separate families. They have also taken the rare step of publically getting involved in the immigration debate, “issu[ing] a series of increasingly explicit statements in favor of allowing some illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work”, and acting as a “…defining factor in passing…immigration legislation” in Utah (which, while far from perfect, was opposed by anti-immigrant groups in the state).
And Romney? Well, lets just say that on this issue he has chosen another tack. He supports the Dream Act, or at least the part that would give citizenship to immigrants who put their lives on the line fighting wars to protect American economic interests, which neither he nor his own sons felt any compulsion to become personally involved with. He slammed Newt Gingrich (and I feel a little nauseous defending the Newt) for suggesting that breaking up families that have been longstanding contributing members of our communities is bad for everyone involved. And he made Rick Perry look reasonable (Perry!) when Perry suggested that undocumented residents who were brought to this country as children should not be punished for their parent’s actions, which Romney pounced on as “amnesty”.
Now I know that I probably shouldn’t read too much into Romney’s stance on immigration, as it is subject to change depending on what crowd he is speaking to, but it makes me wonder how he defines “loving” and “neighbor”. I am not suggesting a free-for-all at the southern border, but I do believe that if Romney, and the rest of the Religious Right, really thought of the brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking foreigners they call “illegals” as their literal brothers and sisters (which our doctrine teaches us they are), they might treat them a little differently than they do now.
My principal reason for backing President Obama is his support and initiation of healthcare reform, and ultimately his signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. Republicans have pejoratively labeled it Obamacare; meanwhile President Obama has embraced the term, saying, "I have no problem with people saying Obama cares. I do care." I care too, and this issue is the political lynchpin for me. I cannot support any candidate who does not appreciate or understand the need for an expansion of access to healthcare in this country. Healthcare should not be a privilege of the wealthy, but a right for all. I believe that if we can get behind public monies for libraries, sports arenas, museums, parks, wildlife protection, and Bombs over Baghdad, then we should also ensure healthcare access.
And so you might further see my point: are you aware that through local tax payer money, you (and your children) can check out Saw I, II, III, IV, V, VI, and Saw: the Final Chapter from the Seattle Public Library and the King County Library System? And I just checked - you can get it at the Salt Lake City Library as well.
My belief is that providing healthcare is the right thing to do; it is the Christian thing to do, and this aligns with my Mormon faith. I echo the words written by Boyd Peterson in his essay entitled, Why I'm a Mormon Democrat:
"I believe that the Democratic party takes the strongest position on many moral issues. For example, King Benjamin's address in the Book of Mormon admonishes us to prioritize, 'feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants' (Mosiah 4:26). I believe the Democratic party works harder to protect and defend these moral priorities."
And so I feel about President Obama. When I decided to vote for Barack Obama, I did so with the belief that he would bring change to America and especially its healthcare system. Of course, there is more to be done. However, President Obama has fulfilled his promise of change in so many ways; therefore, I will continue to support him and his presidency.
In addressing the specific issue of healthcare, I like these two quotations, one from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the second from the American Medical Student Association:
"Our approach to health care is shaped by a simple but fundamental principle: 'Every person has a right to adequate health care. This right flows from the sanctity of human life and the dignity that belongs to all human persons, who are made in the image of God.' Health care is more than a commodity; it is a basic human right, an essential safeguard of human life and dignity. We believe our people's health care should not depend on where they work, how much their parents earn, or where they live. Our constant teaching that each human life must be protected and human dignity promoted leads us to insist that all people have a right to health care."
USCCB - June 18, 1993, "A Framework for Comprehensive Health Care Reform."
"In a time when thousands of people lose their health insurance every day, when health care is becoming elusive to even well-to-do Americans, and when any person is just one pink slip away from becoming uninsured, it becomes clear that health care for all is not just important to achieve, but imperative.
At its root, the lack of health care for all in America is fundamentally a moral issue. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have some form of universal health care (defined as a basic guarantee of health care to all of its citizens). While other countries have declared health care to be a basic right, the United States treats health care as a privilege, only available to those who can afford it...
Americans purport to believe in equal opportunity. Yet, in the current situation, those who do not have health care are at risk for financial ruin and poorer health, both of which disadvantage them in society and thereby do not give them equal opportunity...
The Declaration of Independence states there are certain 'inalienable rights', including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If Americans believe in an inalienable right to life, how can we tolerate a system that denies people lifesaving medications and treatments? Similarly, if Americans believe in an inalienable
right to the pursuit of happiness, how can we allow millions of dreams to be smashed by the financial and physical consequences of uninsurance?"
AMSA - Aug. 27, 2009, "The Case for Universal Healthcare."
It feels dang good to be on the right side of history on this one.
There is a fundamental problem with being a Democrat. The problem is quite simple, yet complex in an ironic sort of way. The issue is Democrats' inability to discuss positions in short, mind-numbing, explanations. There are two main reasons why Democrats struggle with delivering a clear, concise message:
- Democratic ideas are more complex and difficult to deliver in one line statements.
- Democrats, as a party, are splintered into several groups made up of various demographics.
Democrats have a fundamental problem of controlling the message. There is a saying which sums up debate in politics, “If you are explaining, you’re losing.” Republicans understand this concept and have perfected it in all aspects of conversation. Here are some uniformed Republican responses:
-How would you strengthen the economy? Cut taxes so employers have more money to hire.
-Talk about your stance on government? Inefficient and should be cut.
-How would you improve education? Remove teachers unions and develop charter schools.
Right wing talking points are precise and effective. Republicans believe government is the problem, so obstructionism is an effective part of the strategy, and help reinforce the right’s platform of smaller government. Republicans have a better chance of taking House and Senate seats the lower the approval rating is because “government does not work”.
Democrats have a much different perspective. Government has the ability to solve many of our Nations’ problems, so explaining the role of government in any conversation becomes difficult. For example, Obamacare has critical pieces of legislation that protect consumers and lower costs of prescription drugs. However, discussing a Democrat’s perspective of healthcare legislation takes several minutes as one tries to identify the issues, and then explain the solution.
If there is one fundamental problem President Obama has encountered, it is controlling the message. Today, very few citizens can recite what the stimulus package or President Obama’s education legislation accomplished for this nation. These types of programs cannot be explained in short 45 second sound bites which allow the opposing view to crowd out the rationale. President Bush was the opposite. Most of his policies were highly problematic for the country, but the messaging was so effective it won him reelection in 2004.
The second problem surrounding discussion is the demographics of the Democratic Party. Democrats as a whole have varying views on key social issues and platforms. Ask ten different Democrats a question, and you will potentially hear ten different responses. Some might argue this demonstrates how disorganized the party is. Democrats would argue this is what makes the party great. Politics is not about perfect alignment, it’s about constructive discussion that resolves in a unified solution. The founders of this nation were splintered in discussing the role of government, but they were passionate about compromising which led to a collective decision. Democrats won in 2008 largely because moderates flocked away from the rigorous views of the right and were welcomed with open arms by the left. You could be pro-life and be Democrat (Harry Reid is). You could support corporations and be a Democrat. You could be a fiscal conservative and be a Democrat.
Regardless of these varying degrees of opinions on key Democrat platforms, government has the capacity to solve many of our Nations’ problems. This is the only unformed principle fully supported by all party members.
Democrats need to understand these two principles when sharing their ideas in conversations. Although the immediate and easy response is to leverage anti-Republicans slander in debates, Democrats have the data and vision to be leaders of solutions and change, not part of the cynical problem and robust pessimism. Republicans use short, concise talking points to paint problems black and white in one quick stroke. Democrats should take the lead in fostering debate and discussion, understanding that internal differences place the party in the best position to represent the majority.
More has been added to our national debt under President Obama than all the other presidents combined. Partially true. However, of the $5.1 trillion added to the National Debt from 2009 to 2012, only $1.5 trillion is due legislation signed by President Obama. Of that $1.5 trillion, only $500 billion in incremental spending carries past 2010. The rest of the debt, or $3.6 trillion, can be directly attributed to legislation passed under previous administrations.
On January 20, 2009 President Obama walked into the oval office and was handed a negative annual deficit of $1.3 trillion. This was a stark contrast from his predecessor, who began his eight years in office with a $200 billion dollar surplus. However, through healthcare entitlements, unfunded wars, wealth redistributing tax cuts, and TARP that surplus had turned into the largest fiscal deficit our country had ever experienced. Obama was handed this budgetary disaster, coupled with a collapsed economy with the expectation of immediate change. Little did he know three years later, he would be held responsible for the gap he inherited, and full blame for the skyrocketing debt. Before we can understand what Obama was expected to fix, we need to first understand where our government spends money.
The federal budget is broken into five major categories; healthcare, defense, social security, interest, and everything else. The first four categories equate to 80% of the total federal budget consistently over the past 20 years. The “everything else” category includes spending from education, governmental programs, appropriations, earmarks, federal departments, etc. The “everything else” category dominates 90% of federal budget debates and discussions, and is leveraged in political perversions of reality. Here is the last 20 years of governmental spending broken down by category:
President Obama signed two major pieces of legislation that grew short and long term spending. In 2010 President Obama signed the American Recovery Act. This legislation accounts for $800B of new debt through $224b in entitlement spending, $275b in grants, and $288b in tax cuts over 2009 - 2010. You can see these amounts reflected in the 2009 and 2010 budget lines as the “everything else” category spikes and then declines the following years.
The second piece of legislation that President Obama signed into law was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In crafting the legislation, House Democrats worked closely with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to ensure the new legislation would remain deficit neutral. The potential increase in spending was offset by penalties due to mandates and some additional taxes directed at the super wealthy like "cadillac" healthcare plans. The CBO produced a report confirming President Obama’s claims. The only credible report opposing the neutral claim came from the highly conservative Heritage Foundation, providing a high side of $75 billion annual increase around the legislation (roughly 8%). Since Obamacare was created to be deficit neutral, repealing Obamacare has a negligible impact on our Nation’s budget.
The rest of the budget growth relies on legislated “stabilizers” that kick in based on marketplace conditions. For example, spending on Social Security will continue to increase as more individuals reach the threshold, unless we restructure the program. Defense will continue to increase unless we make changes to our policies. Medicare costs will continue to skyrocket as more individuals reach the required age. Welfare costs should hold flat unless unemployment grows, and interest expense will continue to rise as more debt is issued to pay for all of these programs. This entire group has little to do with any of President Obama’s policies, and would be growing at the same rate regardless of who sat in the Oval Office.
One of the most overlooked causes of our budgetary problem is due to governmental income, or receipts. Like our own household budget, when our income stays flat, so should our spending. Over the last decade this has not been the case. From 2000-2009, budgetary spending increased almost 96% and our nation’s receipts (income) only increased 3%. Imagine doubling your household spending after receiving a 3% pay raise! In 2000 receipts were roughly 20% of GDP. In 2009 receipts were 15% of GDP. If the 2009 receipts were equal to 2000 levels, our annual deficit would decline by $700 billion.
What caused this shortfall in income? The collapse of the economy and the 2002/2003 tax cuts. In 2002 and 2003, tax cuts were signed into legislation based on the premise that the red hot economy of the 1990’s would continue through the next decade. The collapse of the housing market and war spending were not part of the equation, nor was TARP funding and other bailouts. Even more problematic was when President Obama extended these tax cuts compromising with the Republicans to avoid a governmental shutdown. Declining receipts due to the economic collapse is straight forward; less income tax is being collected due to unemployment and less is being spent by the consumer.
As we go into the 2012 elections voters beware. You might be inclined to blame President Obama for the rising National Debt. However, if Governor Romney takes office in 2012, he will have four years of continuing rising deficits unless the big four spending categories are re-legislated. Why? Because minimal has been proposed in controlling rising spending, and any additional tax cuts will only expedite the problem. Of course the desire will again be to blame President Obama, but that will fall on deaf ears due to lack of rhetoric consistency.
If you still believe President Obama is to blame for $5 trillion in new debt, feel free to comment below identifying what legislation he signed to deliver such a disastrous fiscal decline. Whatever your belief, cut through the media’s rhetoric and read the actual budget. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb
Super PACs make me so mad. Regardless of party affiliation, I think that everyone can agree that Super PACs are seriously undermining our democracy. Allowing individuals and corporations to make unlimited and undisclosed contributions is a sure way to buy politicians and thwart the democratic process. Please watch this excellent two-minute NYTimes Cast that gives a very clear and succinct explanation of how Super PACs work. For a more light-hearted and entertaining explanation, watch this clip from The Colbert Report that shows Colbert transferring control of his Super PAC over to Jon Stewart, whom he cannot "coordinate with." It gives me chills of horror when he concludes with: "And God bless Citizens United!"
Here are three simple ways you can take action:
1. Sign this petition started by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to reverse the Citizen's United Decision.
2. Sign this petition to President Obama started by the League of Women Voters to put appoint new commissioners to the FEC. I am a long-time member of the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan group that seeks to promote democracy by educating and registering voters and supporting voting rights. They argue that one way to keep money out of politics is to improve the Federal Election Commission: "The FEC is supposed to be the government agency that enforces campaign finance laws, but it isn’t working and hasn’t for a long time. Of the six commissioners at the agency, three of them simply refuse to enforce the law, and five of the six are serving despite the fact that their terms expired some time ago."
3. Find ways to get involved with your local community through the organization Move to Amend whose stated mission is to "get the money out of politics." They recently called for protests at federal courthouses all across the US on the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision.
Post by Joseph M -
I used to be rather surprised whenever I would see Mormons referenced in the media or popular culture (remember the last line of Raising Arizona?) This is not the case anymore. Here are several links about Romney and his Mormonism. Thanks to all of you that sent us links (my liberal sister for one,) and if you find more, please send them our way!
From Fox News, Jan 12th: Mormons confident US ready to elect first LDS president, survey shows
From CBS News, Jan 14th: Is America Ready for a Mormon President?
From Yahoo! News, Jan 16th: Will America Get Its First Mormon President? Five Facts About Mormons
From Huffington Post, Jan 25th: Why Mitt Romney Can't Be the Mormon JFK
From CNN Belief Blog, Jan 26th: On Call with Conservatives, Romney Speaks to Mormon Beliefs
After losing the South Carolina Primary to Newt Gingrich, possibly in part due to his waffling at the pre-Primary debates about releasing his tax returns, Mitt Romney released his tax returns for the past two years, which show that he paid about 14% in federal taxes on income of nearly $43 million. The timing of Romney's tax return release was impeccable- for Democrats. For months, President Obama and Democrats have been attacking Republicans for wanting to maintain tax breaks and loopholes for the super-wealthy. Last August, Warren Buffet pointed out in an op-ed that he paid a lower federal tax rate than his secretary in 2010. He paid about 17.4%, whereas his office staff paid an average of 36%. Buffet rightly pointed out that this simply isn't fair. He added, "it’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."Read more
My hope is that most people by now have seen the State of the Union Address given by President Obama on Tuesday or at least some of it. That said, regardless if you have or have not, I would recommend you view it with the nifty "PowerPoint" graphics along side by watching it from the official www.whitehouse.gov website. Click here to watch the speech.
I am sure there will be more on this topic posted soon...in the meantime, please lets us know what your thoughts on the address or this great new site.