Our Obamacare Gratitude Is Huge

Thank you Pres Obama and all in Congress who made Obamacare happen.

I’m sharing a screenshot of the adjusted insurance premium we will be paying even though it’s the kind of info I’d usually treat as very private. But because there are powerful political forces determined to get rid of the ACA should they ever get the chance, I feel it’s important to share our family’s concrete example.

health care

We used the exchange for the 3rd year in a row last month to renew our coverage for 2016, and we received a modest subsidy based on our projected income, and we were very grateful. Then I lost my job unexpectedly. Our family was able to exercise the provision of the law that allows people who experience a job loss to re-submit their online

change life
Partial screenshot of the healthcare.gov web page that showed me how to report our unexpected drop in income due to job loss. BTW, the website works great. It’s fast, accurate, and really helpful.

application and get a bigger subsidy to cover their health insurance costs. The amount of our subsidy has doubled, making our health insurance costs much more affordable during this uncertain and challenging time for us financially. If/when Melissa or I get our next job, we’ll have to report that change as well and then we’ll get a smaller subsidy, which is fair.

One thing I hadn’t expected to happen was that because our estimated 2016 income dropped from what I’ll call very middle class to lower middle class, not only did our subsidy to pay the insurance premiums increase, but our deductible and co-pays decreased dramatically, which I’ve learned is also part of how the law helps working families stay insured.

I can’t say enough about what this law has meant to our family. Before the ACA exchanges opened, we were only able to get coverage from one insurance company, and it was costing more than we could afford and rising unpredictably. We built up thousands of dollars in credit card debt trying to keep up with it. We tried shopping around for coverage, but no other company would insure us due to pre-existing conditions. With two kids, a mortgage, student loans, etc., we’d reached the point where we were seriously considering dropping our coverage to make ends meet, and hoping for the best. This law has saved our family’s butts.

To my conservative friends, please consider us and the millions of families like ours who benefit from this law, which is based on a model that originated with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy think tank, and which was promoted by Romney when he was gov of MA. I ask you to be open minded about it and not just oppose it because Obama shepherded it into law.

To my very lefty, Bernie Sanders enthusiast friends, please consider us as well, and please don’t refrain from voting for Hillary or any other Dem who ends up the nominee because you’ve been told they’re too centrist or corporate friendly and it “doesn’t make a difference.” You’re literally helping to screw my family if you do that. The uninsured rate in this country has been cut in half, and the mental health relief people like us receive from this law, just from not having to worry about how to stay insured, is enormous. These aren’t just stats. This is real. Thanks for listening.

our old car
Several years ago we bought this 20+ year old Mercedes to run on bio-diesel and we drove it until everything but the engine was falling apart. I miss the blue bumper sticker…

 

 

Yearning for War

I had a coffee-induced insight this morning that I think helps me understand part of what’s driving the part of our society that’s drawn to Tea Party politics. My train of thought went like this:

Last night, I watched the 1977 film, A Bridge Too Far, starring, well, pretty much every hot male actor in Hollywood at that time (Sean Connery, Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine, Elliott Gould, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, etc.) The film depicts the attempt by the Allied forces in WW2 to strike a decisive final blow against the Nazis by carrying out a daring, multi-faceted massive surprise attack that was known as Operation Market-Garden (cool BBC animation here). For a bunch of reasons, including the unwillingness of military higher ups to take heed of intelligence warnings that indicated the plans might fail, Market Garden ended up being a bust, and many thousands of soldiers died in the process. bridge too far

But for all the questions A Bridge Too Far raises about modern warfare, I didn’t see it as a purely “anti-war” film. It glorified the war, the soldiers, and the excitement of the attempt to pull off Market Garden even as it critiqued the human foibles that led to its failure.

And in reflecting on the movie this morning, I remembered a moment from my childhood, in which my dad and one of his good friends, Charlie, were reminiscing about their childhoods. They both grew up during WW2. At one point, Charlie lamented what he described as the selfishness and vapidness of present day society (this was in the early 1980s), and he spoke about how great it was when he was a kid, and the entire nation was united behind the war effort. My dad vigorously agreed, and the two of them started talking about the sacrifices people made on a daily basis, and on the moral clarity people had about defeating the Germans.

“That was our war,” Charlie said, and I was puzzled by the defensive, and even possessive, tone in his voice. “Yes it was,” my dad concurred.

watching A Bridge Too Far reminded me of how shockingly beautiful Robert Redford was in his youth
watching A Bridge Too Far reminded me of how shockingly beautiful Robert Redford was in his youth

So, a few years ago I read parts of Chris Hedges’ book, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. His basic thesis is simple, and perhaps so obvious that some might wonder why anyone would need to write a book to make this case. Hedges argues that for all its horrors, and for all the proclamations that politicians and generals make about the evils of war and their desire for peace, in point of fact humans, as a collective, look to war to provide meaning in our lives.

Now, from the literature about war we have from places like ancient Greece or even biblical Israel, it’s obvious that war gives meaning to peoples’ lives. While there may be some literature from these societies lamenting the sufferings of war, for the most part war is the way that men win glory, and that nations achieve all kinds of greatness. It’s our modern society that outwardly says “war – none of us want it” while simultaneously returning to involvement in war after war. Continue reading “Yearning for War”

Rant Rant Rant Dammit Trump Hate-fest GOP Letting Him Go Too Far

John-Danforth
Former US Sen. John Danforth, currently age 79, was a thoughtful Republican senator from Missouri. With his warm dignity and long career of treating political opponents with respect and civility, he could be part of a whole slew of GOP heavyweights banding together to discredit and eject Trump. Why isn’t that happening?

Here’s what’s pissing me off more than Trump’s racist & misogynistic demagoguery: the failure of other Republican leaders to step up strong, call him out, denounce him, and tell him he’s not welcome in their party. Today he fielded a question from a man who spewed anti-Muslim racist garbage, including claiming Obama to be a Muslim and not an American citizen (how original). Trump said nothing to contradict the man’s claims, and he treated the man’s eventual question, “will we ever be rid of them [Muslims]” like a normal question. His response meandered but more or less affirmed the man’s ideas.

120229_snowe_pic_605_reut
Former Sen. Olympia Snowe, (R – Maine), supposedly left politics because her party had moved too far right for her. She could be banding together with other Repubs who see Trump as a dangerous demagogue. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dick Lugar, Colin Powell, Condaleeza Rice,

Of course, this is only the latest episode in Trump’s media-grabbing use of shock-language, xenophobia, and hate. That someone like Trump could be doing what he’s doing right now is not terribly surprising. But what’s inexplicable and appalling is the overall lack of a clear and forceful condemnation of Trump’s destructive narcissistic fear-mongering by  the rest of the Republican leadership, including the other Presidential candidates, current major office-holders, and retired respected GOP figures.

mitty
This guy could be standing firm against Trumpism and it would make a difference.

Yes, some of the other candidates have objected to things Trump has said, or have criticized him at times in strong terms. But that’s not enough. Not enough for a major American political party that carries some of the responsibility of upholding our most basic core American values.

ahnold
There’s no way the Guvernator is down with all of Trump’s mishugass. So come on, Ahnold… give him a piece of your mind!

I’m saying it out loud now: Republicans are making a huge mistake by not having collectively called out Trump’s many bigotries as completely unacceptable for our nation and for their party. What we should have been seeing in the past 8 weeks is a parade of high stature GOP leaders coming forward in every media format to take this guy down. There are 3 living Republican former Presidents who could do this. There’s Colin Powell and Condi Rice. There are retired Senators, like the well-respected Republican moderate, John Danforth, of my home state of Missouri, and John Sununu, and even The Guvernator! All of these folks, including all of the current GOP candidates for pres, should have huddled and then set forth on a clear, unequivocal rejection of Trump having a place in the party. The message would be “we’re conservative – perhaps even very conservative these days – but racist, sexist, and just plain arrogant and cruel comments are out of bounds for our party.”

He could be clear and loud denouncing Trump.
He could be clear and loud denouncing Trump.

I don’t know how party rules work, but if it is possible for them to kick him out of the party, they should have, along with the full-blown denunciation and condemnation. Instead, the criticisms aimed at him are scattered, weak, and do not reach the level of stopping this dangerous demagogue from hijacking the party brand.
Continue reading “Rant Rant Rant Dammit Trump Hate-fest GOP Letting Him Go Too Far”

My Trouble with My Cardinals

I grew up in St. Louis and started going to Cardinals games around age 5. Usually I’d go with my father, sometimes with my grandfather. It was the 70s, the Cards had tons of hitting, but no pitching, and they finished 3rd or 4th every year. When I was 13, that mediocrity suddenly transformed into an exciting, speed and defense driven, small-ball-oriented team that won the World Series in 1982. While I was in high school, this team, managed by Whitey Herzog, was even further built for speed, and they won the NL pennant two more times, in ’85 and ’87, though they lost the WS each of those years.

My baseball heroes were Ozzie Smith, Terry Pendleton, Tommy Herr, Jack Clark, Bob Forsch, John Tudor, and Willie McGee, to name a few. OzzieBy the time I started college, the Cards were as deeply embedded in my sense of identity as anything else that had been a consistent force throughout my childhood. Whether I liked it or not, I was a die-hard fan, and I followed the team daily. I still do.

When the Cards won the NL pennant in 2004 (only to be swept in the WS by the miracle Red Sox of that year), my interest in the team was re-ignited. And since then it’s been a fun ride for Redbirds fans, no doubt. Between 2004 and 2014, St. Louis has won 4 NL pennants, 2 World Series, and has made the post-season almost every year. The Cards currently have the best record in all of baseball, by quite a margin, and they’re locks to be in the post-season once again.

Pretty much the one thing that could sour my child-like devotion to the Redbirds would be if, say, the star player of the team and the manager went to a huge Glenn Beck rally and gave speeches and received awards from him. Which is exactly what happened in August 2010.

Continue reading “My Trouble with My Cardinals”