Mitt Romney’s question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” implies voters should consider only their own self-interest. But responsible voters who understand the duties of citizenship base their votes on the overall good of society.
The appropriate question is not, “Are you better off now than in 2008?” but, “Is our country better off?”
And the answer is clearly “yes.” Our country is better off in many crucial respects. To mention just two, it is more stable economically and more ethical in its treatment of the ill.
In September 2008, we faced financial catastrophe. The Republicans’ policies of deregulation caused a crash that brought us to the brink of a major depression, destroyed businesses, gutted retirement savings and left many mortgages “underwater.” In the four years since, we have seen slow but steady recovery. President Obama’s policies have prevented the devastating depression that looked only too likely in 2008.
In September 2008, millions of Americans had no access to reliable health care. If your employer didn’t offer insurance and you couldn’t afford private coverage, you had no options. If you had a pre-existing condition, you could not get private insurance. Lifetime caps meant that children with chronic illnesses could lose coverage by the time they started school.
With the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), America moved towards joining other major developed nations in making health care available to all citizens. No toddler should have to die of asthma because her parents’ jobs don’t offer benefits. No laid-off middle-aged worker should have to stop buying diabetic medications after his COBRA coverage ends. No cancer patient should have to choose between paying the mortgage and paying for chemotherapy.
Such brutal, immoral restrictions on access to health care have no place in a civilized society.
On a personal note, my cousin’s 21-year-old daughter has a chronic illness that is manageable only with medications, frequent hospital stays and consistent care. Her family is not rich and could not cover her care without insurance.
Obamacare lets her stay on her parents’ insurance until age 26. When the pre-existing conditions provision takes effect in 2014, she can buy her own insurance. Four years ago, she had neither of those options.
So yes, my family is better off now. More importantly, our entire country is better off than in 2008, and we are a better society. For that, President Obama deserves our gratitude and our support.