How Politics Negatively Affects Our Finances
The last two years have been somewhat interesting as far as looking at what the people we elect have or haven’t done for we, the people. As we get closer to what’s known as midterm elections, I thought it would be interesting to look back to see what’s gone on. I’m going to be as balanced as possible, but I make no promises.
The biggest story since President Obama has been elected has been health care reform. Some might say the economy, but nothing has generated as much vociferous behavior as this thing has. We now have a health care bill passed. The bulk of it doesn’t go into effect until 2014, which leaves plenty of time for someone to mess it up. It also leaves plenty of time for someone to fix it, and man, does it need fixing.
Deciding to fund it on the backs of rich people, which kind of repulsive, is a lot better deal that funding it on the backs of the people President Obama said he’d never hurt, that being the middle class. And since the middle class is the group that needs the health care bill the most, they’re really not being given much of a choice as to paying out of pocket for the coverage or not. That having been said, there’s so many gaps in just what this bill is supposed to be that it’s hard to give it total approval.
Even so, one has to look at the Republicans on this topic, who not only never offered anything, but have done everything they can to make health care for everyone look like it’s the worst thing since Jim Crow laws went out of fashion. Our country and Italy are the only two countries in the world that don’t have health care for all its people; that looks bad. Being in health care, I understand the costs, and I also know that most people don’t want it coming out of their taxes. The point is that this country needs to have some kind of health care for everyone, especially when the reality is that 61% of all people who file for bankruptcy have some significant health care debt. We need to be better than that, and overall we deserve better than both this bill and the people who can only say “no” and not offer anything else.
The second thing that’s been a big deal has been the economy. But that’s too broad a subject, so it has to be broken up into different areas. Let’s start with banking. Most people hated that we bailed the banks out of their mess, especially when so many people in this country didn’t qualify for any type of bailout as we went through one of the worst periods of the shedding of jobs in the history of this country.
President Obama can’t take the blame for that one, since it started before he took office, but he did encourage President Bush to loan the banks the money. Personally, when you consider it all, if we had let those banks crash it would have taken down the world economy worse than it did, and that would have been worse than anything we could have thought of outside of war or terrorism. That the banks were allowed to get into that mess in the first place makes no sense, but deregulation proves to be a bad thing sometimes.
And then we went too far in the other direction with salaries and Congress thinking about passing a law that would only affect 70 people or so; scary. That would have been a great abuse of power, and I’m glad keener senses took over at the last minute. Still, the major banks are going through recovery pains, and they’re taking it out on consumers with new bank and credit card fees. That’s why I don’t have an account at any major banks and no major credit cards anymore other than my American Express card; they haven’t been perfect either, but nothing as bad as the banks.
Housing; I almost hate to bring this one up. The bulk of the problems were because of the banks, and it’s affected both residential and commercial properties. Blaming Rep. Barney Frank for this mess is like blaming Affirmative Action for racism. What politics did was create the tax rebate for two years, one year under President Bush and one year under President Obama, which helped some but not enough. I have stated in more than one place that I believe banks should have been more proactive in working with people who had some means to pay on their mortgages so they’d be getting some money in instead of all these foreclosures, which depressed the market, created a glut of homes, drastically lowered prices, then banks went into a shell and stopped granting loans, even to people with great credit scores, which I still think is a scam. The federal government is now giving money to some states to help their housing problems but it’s not going to be close to enough.
On this front of unemployment, President Obama came out with a stimulus package. It got misused, in my opinion, as most companies used it to keep the jobs they already had rather than create any new jobs. And of course some Republicans had to posture and say they weren’t taking the money, yet in the long run they all took the money.
If it had been me I’d have set up criteria for how the money had to be used, stuck with certain industries or training programs for small business careers like plumbing, electricians and the like, and that would have created jobs and people with the new ability to generate their own income. Of course, once again at least he tried something, while the party of “no” was disingenuous, wondering where the money was coming from and decrying a rising national debt that wouldn’t have been rising and wouldn’t have been debt if President Bush hadn’t decided to start giving all that money away instead of paying bills. Thank you President Clinton; you tried.
Overall, we haven’t been done many favors by our nationally elected officials. They spent more time ignoring each other and trying to hurt each other rather than helping us. This is going to sound like I’m leaning one way instead of the other, but at least the Democrats kept proposing things to help; I can’t think of one bill a Republican proposed that was supposed to help anyone, though they did propose some things to take more away from us. And yet this is the party whose message didn’t get out, and we might be back to dealing with the party that doesn’t care about people, but does care about corporations, even though those corporations have proven to be disreputable many times.
Neither party has been all that effective. You can’t be effective if you can’t talk to each other. At this juncture it really doesn’t matter what happens with the midterm elections because things aren’t going to get done over the next two years. The Republicans don’t have a reason to allow anything to get done because they want President Obama to lose, and the Democrats won’t have the power to get anything done without Republican help. So, it will be politics as usual.
And we, the people, will lose… again.