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July 26, 2011

Broken Promises: The Working Poor

Broken Promises: The Working Poor

This has been a miserable summer.  The weather is breaking heat and humidity records, we have no more Harry Potter movies to anticipate, kids can no longer dream of being astronauts, and the politicians in DC seem particularly asshole-ish.  To mangle a Jon Stewart bit, it's like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Gets Drunk, Tells His Constituents to Go Fuck Themselves, and Blows up The Smithsonian."

This isn't a political blog - in fact, it's hard to tell the difference between the alleged parties these days.  One Asshat looks just as moronic as another.  I think, though, that there is something we can clear up, if we work together.

One of the greatest promises of our country is this: if you work hard, you will be secure.  This is the basis of the American dream.  This is what called most of our families here from other countries. This promise fuels our work ethic, our sense of pride and accomplishment, and the lessons we teach our children.

Right before our eyes, that promise is being broken.

Most people could care less about a debt ceiling that is already so obscene that we cannot imagine its volume.  Most people just want jobs.  Jobs that allow them to feed their families, hold their heads up, own their own homes, and contribute to our society as a whole.

In case you haven't been paying attention to what is really going on in DC, the people in this country who are really getting shafted by the cuts in government programs are the Working Poor.  They are NOT, as many people seem to believe, made up exclusively of crackheads and people who hold up convenience stores.  Sure, there are deadbeats, but the majority of the people who need support are the ones who are working their asses off and still losing their homes. These are people who work more than one job - they work more hours than most of us reading this blog, but they can't keep up with expenses because costs are going up and their wages are not.  These are people who have no health insurance, and rely on state and federal programs so they can take their kids to the doctors.

These are people who have to decide which bill to pay - medicine, food, or utilities.  And now we need to include the elderly - you know - the people who already spent a lifetime working based on the understanding that all the money they paid in to Social Security would provide for them after retirement.  Pension plans?  Most people lost the money they earned when their former employers went bankrupt/got refinanced/sold out/etc.  Don't miss the important part - they money they earned - by working for 40 years, only to lose it because someone got greedy and/or cooked the books.

These are not people spending money in casinos, or buying $200 pairs of shoes.  These are not people who choose between eating out at Red Robin or at Applebees.  These are not even people who get to decide whether to buy two tubes of toothpaste if it's on sale, because they barely have enough money to buy one for their family.  These are people who's souls are seared because their children go to bed hungry.

Before you tell me that I sound like a bleeding heart, or a liberal, or a socialist, or whatever term is fashionable to connote: "Tax and spend irresponsible reprobate", take a step back.  If it weren't for the whole pacifism thing, I'd be a true Libertarian.  I don't like anyone telling me how to live, especially elected officials who wouldn't know the Constitution if it grew fangs and bit them on the ass.

This debate has more to do with humanity than it does with political labels.  This is no hypothetical. People are losing their homes and can't feed their kids.  This is crisis time.  Unemployment is a reality.  People - regardless of education or experience or race or gender or religion - are losing their jobs every day.  You could be next.

What kind of country do you want to live in?  Because if America has become a country that disregards the fate of innocents in order to maintain an intransigent position on some kind of political theory, it's not a country I can be proud of.  If we sit silently by, and allow these elected officials to make decisions that break the backs and hearts of the people who just want to make a decent living, then more shame is on us than on them.

Whether you agree with me or not, the time for passive behavior is over.  Take a position.  Research the primary facts to support it.  And then demand that the men and women in Washington, DC fulfill their promise to represent their constituents.  

Enough with the broken promises.  We are better than that.  Time to stand up and act like it. 




**Please note that I wrote this blog prior to the Monday night addresses/commentaries/"news" coverage and other discussions regarding the debt ceiling crisis.  You should take whatever parts of those developments into consideration before you finalize your position.  



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Thank you, Kathy. I couldn't agree more.

I don't know nearly enough about economics to say anything worthwhile about the debt ceiling except that I understand all hell will break loose unless the parties reach a deal by next week, and that hell will affect us all.

There's one aspect of government that seems to exacerbate every problem and I would love to hear a potential solution for it. It's the "electability" thing. No one is able to govern effectively because they're terrified of looking bad to the electorate and losing the next election. Complex issues, far-sighted solutions, nuance, compromise, all of that is out the window. Many reasonable, ethical people with a desire to serve their country are too freaked out by the system and the campaign requirements to consider running for office, which leaves us with a few truly dedicated public servants and a whole lot of people who are good at raising money and some who should maybe just have their own reality TV show.

Thanks for letting me rant.

Kathy, Wow. Yeh. It's truly assholian. For the first time in my life, I don't want to talk politics because something has died in the arena. No one has the guts to drag a sack of lime out of the barn, dig a hole and bury it.

The last few weeks the paratransit vans have been empty whenever I've had to go somewhere. There had always been several others riding with me to their jobs, college, or day programs and such. I asked the driver where everyone was, and she told me that it had been like that since the fare had doubled. The standard fare is now $6 round trip.

I am not hurting for living expenses in general, but the fare increase means I have to cut to one round trip per week. I can make that work. But if I weren't on disability leave from my job - if I had to go to work every day - that would cost $36 right there.

I applied for reduced-fare rates so that I could do 2 things in one week - like go to the doctor and buy food. I was turned down, because I earn too much money. Our county department of transportation does not take high medical expenses into consideration. If it's happening to me it must be happening to others.

As I said, I will get by. My employer puts a check into my bank account every month. I have room to adjust. I know how to write a grant to get help paying for my new wheelchair ramp. There are many people who don't have the wiggle room, and they are hurting - much more.

I called the local independent living center (ILC) for a friend with MS who needed help getting a new walker. She said her old one was no longer suitable to her needs, and her insurance wouldn't cover a new one this soon. I was told by the ILC worker that the person who would know where to get that help doesn't work there anymore. So I asked her who would know. The answer I got? "I'm just a volunteer. We all are." This is a nationally-funded program.

Thanks Kathy.

OK, I'm no good in arithmetic . . . that would be $30. But that doesn't include trips to the store - school - doctor - physical therapy - wheelchair repair shop . Just forget the library - workshops for grant writing - church. A movie? Museum? Park? No . . . all too expensive now for many of my wheelie friends and others in need of assisted transit.

You fell into the "both sides do it" trap, which is completely untrue. One group is trying to use the government to govern, and the other group is trying to use the government to destroy the government. There is no equivalency.

That said, it should be no surprise that I am a tax-and-spend liberal. We should have much higher taxes, and the government should provide the services that they do in civilized, first world countries, which ours is apparently not.

Watched the Presidential Address last night, listened carefully and processed it, then listened to Boehner's rebuttal, listened carefully, and processed his side.

Ultimately? I don't give a damn... FIX IT! You guys are the ones who are there because we trusted you to watch out for us (not 'take care of us' but at least watch our backs). You're there because we put you there, and it's your jobs to FIX IT! BOTH of you. ALL of you.

And in other recent news, I wanted to cry over this:


The vaunted and revered College Education now must be upgraded....


New TLC bumper sticker?

The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and we are turning into a third-world country because our children are falling behind in educational opportunities. As long as the upper 10% can keep the tea-partyers focussed on race, religion and same-sex marriage, they'll continue to rape the country and pocket the proceeds. If I could pass three laws, it would be:
1) Single-payer medical system. (Yes, I'd rather have 30,000 disinterested bureaucrats handling our health system than 60,000 for-profit insurance agents).
2) No more tax credits for jobs taken overseas.
3) All upper echelon salaries and bonuses would be tied to the salary and bonuses of the janitors (i.e., no CEO would be allowed to take home more than 500% of his lowest-paid worker. If he wants a bigger salary, then everyone beneath him gets a bigger salary. That way, a rising tide really would lift all boats.)

Fix It, Asshats!

Perfect. I can see this on a TLC bumper sticker, buttons, and undoubtedly a very large T-shirt for yours truly.

I watched as much as I could stand last night. I heard a lot of blame being tossed around, but not much taking of responsibility and nearly NO suggestions for conciliation. It's as if some of these Asshats think this is a freaking poker game. Maybe if we put THEIR job security in the pot, they'd begin to get the message that this is a real crisis.

One thing is for sure, if you haven't already done so, contact your Reps, Senators, the White House and put the pressure on all of them to pull their heads out of their asses and FIX IT!

Have to admit I'm so fed up that I even stopped listening to NPR once the astronauts returned safely. Enough already, Washington. Compromise and FIX IT!

"Fix it asshats" is the new "Keep it simple, stupid", right? I couldn't watch it last night. I figured there would be finger pointing...no one seems to take reponsibility these days....sigh...


First of all, I start from the position that nothing in life is secure. Never has been; never will be. Insecurity is the nature of life on earth for all living beings. No amount of insurance and no pension will change that. Best to face that terrifying fact and commence to do the inner work that allows a person to ride our roller coaster span of years, however many or few they may be.

That said, within that understanding, there can be mercy. There can be strong and worthy efforts to HELP ONE ANOTHER, ASSHATS, instead of just helping ourselves. There can be fairness. Are we a nation with a sense of joined purpose and community? Or are we just a ringful of snarling tigers ripping at each other's hide? Right now, the tigers are winning. In Norway, one of them has left a country bloody. In this country, they're stealing our food and leaving us in more pain every day.

I agree with this: "One group is trying to use the government to govern, and the other group is trying to use the government to destroy the government. There is no equivalency."

I agree with this: "No one is able to govern effectively because they're terrified of looking bad to the electorate and losing the next election."

And this: "The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and we are turning into a third-world country."

What a stupid luxury it is for them to argue so long and hard about the debt ceiling. Under the ceiling the environment is sliding away from us, children are suffering, old people are terrified. And it's all so unnecessary.

Hear, hear, Kathy.

Last week I was visiting my daughter and her family up in Northern Michigan, where cherries were dripping off the trees, and cartons of "washed sweets" were arranged on farmstand tables on every main road. My son-in-law's mother, one year younger than my own mother, has been unable to get up there, where she has vacationed since she was 6 years old, during sweet cherry harvest for the last two years. Jeff asked if I would stop at his mother's home near Dayton and drop off some cherries and blueberries for her.

Part of the reason she has not been up there this time of year is because she is legally blind, and can no longer drive, so she has to wait until someone is able to drive her up. Because of a serious medical issue a year or so ago, she is also receiving Meals on Wheels. While I was visiting with her someone dropped off a KFC meal, and we chatted about this a bit.

Meals on Wheels is a government-subsidized program. Jan pays $2 a meal, and since she can afford to pay more she says she puts more in her check every month. Especially since she learned from the driver that many of the recipients of these meals have NO OTHER FOOD. That's right. NO OTHER FOOD. MOW meals are 3 ounces of protein, a half cup of vegetable, and a half cup of starch, once a day. Period. These are people who are elderly, ill, and unable to work. Not unwilling to work, simply unable. Some of them are blind, like Jan, others are just too old to do much to take care of themselves, and can't afford to move into some cushy assisted living center.

MOW is similar to the school lunch program, which often provides the only meal of the day to children whose parents are unable (or unwilling, let's face it) to provide one for their kids. It's not the kids' fault, but when school is not in session, some of these kids have nothing. In the USA, there are children starving.

These are just two of the so-called "entitlement programs" the pols are going on and on about, people. So what should we do? Should we keep the lowest tax rates on the rich since the Great Depression so we can cut programs like this? Have we gotten this selfish?

I surely hope not.

Every day I hear about more and more friends that are resorting to desperate measures like selling off furniture to pay for their meds or rent. I've got one friend living in a shelter, one that can't afford insulin, one that can't afford food, and one that is going to have to stop taking her behavioral medecine because her insurance suddenly stopped covering it. I don't know. I feel pretty helpless.


I have been living this for the last three years. I still have friends getting laid off, announcing proudly they have a job after two years of looking, trying to figure out how to replace the car that got tornado-ed on Good Friday, it just keeps going.

Actually, yesterday the GOP showed their true colors. "What is more important, a strong economy or not re-electing Obama?" Why it is MUCH more important that Obama leaves the White House. Silly boy, we have important things to fight like gays, condoms and blasphemers.

Yes I am a tax and spend liberal, although, I prefer to call it "pay for what your want." That would be the opposite of being a borrow and spend conservative.


The other day my cousin found a rare photo of my Lithuanian grandmother standing with her son and daughter (my half aunt and uncle) at a piss poor farm. My grandmother crossed the seas at age 16. She had two, maybe three husbands - "husband" being a rather loose term. One committed suicide after the coal mine closed in Shenandoah, PA.

But through hard work and diligence and EDUCATION! her children rose higher than her expectations. Her daughter, Emma, became a WAVE during WWII after which the US Govt. paid for her education. Her own daughter became a doctor. The brother in the picture also fathered a doctor.

My own father, benefitting from the GI bill, went on to earn a doctorate at Harvard and win a Pulitzer Prize.

I keep looking at the picture of these three people basically standing in a pig sty. These are people who, seriously, during the Great Depression ate banana peels.

What happened to that dream? It's good question, Kathy. I'm afraid the only answer is some sort of revolution.

As long as political clout and the insanely wealthy are the deal-breakers, those of us who work for a living (or try to) will continue to be ignored.

Why do you think so many of us need fiction as an escape?!

Keep writing, keep reading, the world will go on, somehow. Maybe not as we now experience it, nor as we'd like it ideally, but it will go on.

Sarah, you bring up a topic that gets ignored, all too often. After WWII, the GI Bill helped bring our country up to the standards we enjoyed as kids, with a great boom of productivity and innovation. People who would not ordinarily have had the chance to get higher education were getting college degrees, and bettering themselves, raising their families' standards of living, and in general making the country better.

Today's stingy Congress would never approve such a program, I'm afraid. Instead, they want to spend billions of dollars to contractors like Blackwater (now something else), rather than have the government manage the standing armed forces. In so doing, they've concentrated income to one faction, instead of spreading it around to a strata of income and education levels.

Not everyone should go to college, but everyone should be able to do as well as they are able to do.

Take a look at your income tax rate. If it's anything like mine it's somewhere between 28% and 35%. Now, look at your local corporate CEO's tax rate (you know, the guy getting million dollar bonuses for firing people). Our own government reports that his is 18% tops. When and if he deigns to pay it at all.

And corporations that make BILLIONS in profit...profit now, not gross income...don't even pay that much. In fact, we pay them to overwork and underpay employees through the tax breaks they get.

Fix it. Easy, get those who are taking the money out of circulation to pay their fair share.

And stop trying to blame ALL of this on the black guy. When Bush took office, there was a surplus. He gave it away to rich cronies. Then continued to give it away even in the face of 2 wars.

Bush dug a hole with a backhoe and left Obama with a teaspoon to try to fill it in and armed guards to keep him away from even attempting it.

I called my US Rep and both Senators -- or tried to. Their phone lines were jammed. So I went through their websites and sent the following email. You all know I'm a tax and spend liberal, too and Florida is infested with Tea Party know-nothings:
"Both the Economist and Forbes Magazine have spoken against John Boehner's plan and in favor of the Harry Reid plan. I know that you are a strong leader and I expect you to put our country first -- above the party, and especially the Tea Party.
Even Ronald Reagan understood compromise.
Do the right thing for your country.


I'd keep it going, but my fingers get too tired, lol.

I think it is the time to get serious about a flat tax/no deduction type of thing. It is cheaper for Dear Hubby & I to file a short form than to take all of the deductions we had last year. We donated a lot to Goodwill/Salvation Army (4 chairs, 3 computers, 2 televisions, and about 25 bags of clothing-good stuff not stained, icky stuff) and couldn't get a decent deduction out of it. Our house is paid off (thank the good Lord) and our daughter is too old for us to claim anymore. So we paid.

Here is a link about the NFL lockout. It is the last paragraph that relates to our discussion.


Pam, those guys are part of the problem! NFL players make obscene amounts of money--tens of millions a year, and they don't pay the same rates as we do, because of the deductions they can take, and because the Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid percentages don't apply past their first $106,800 of income. You and I have to pay that 7.62%, and our employers have to match it for us.

Elaine, I'm stealing your very nicely worded message. But since Jean Schmidt is my Representative, it won't do a bit of good.

PS Why is the Tea Party, which is a very small part of the Republican Party, holding the rest of the country hostage, and why is it allowed to do so? Last I knew, the United States government's modus operandi was "majority rule". Since when does a tiny part of the population hold sway in such a way?

Makes you wonder what, exactly, is going on, doesn't it? I say follow the money, honey. Right to the Koch Brothers, who funded the TP in the first place.

After I submitted my email to Ms. Schmidt's page, this is the message I received on her page:

"Due to a high volume of constituent concerns, I will try to respond to your concern with 1-8 weeks."

Heavy sigh.

There's one thing I have to repeat, Kathy, and that's what Josh said - don't fall into the false equivalency trap.
They don't all do it.
They don't all try to destroy teachers unions.
They don't all put the paychecks of our military at risk.
They don't all tell us a corporate jet is more important than one hot meal a day for hundreds of thousands of children.
They don't all make the country ungovernable with train-wreck after economic train-wreck.
Judith got it right - the unfunded undeclared wars are welfare for Cheney's cronies, wrapped in the flag.
We've got crumbling infrastructure to fix, and I'm tired of hearing how we can't afford it. We have sick people, starving people, and illiterate kids coming out of high school. If we can borrow money to kill people, we can borrow money to heal the country. It's a better investment.

Karen. . .and Grover Norquist.

Karen, you are right. Those guys make an obscene amount of money, but when you look at it by percentages, working conditions, benefits, it is the same as what my father went on strike against GM. It is a product, it makes money. The owners get a certain percentage, player another percentage. I don't buy tickets, so I can't complain, lol. The point I was trying to make was they found a way to compromise. The owners gave up something, the players gave up some. There are ways to compromise to make it tolerable for both sides.

As far as the TP (perfect acronym to my mind) is concerned, the moderate Republicans are afraid to say anything because they will be targeted. Those people are vicious and will say & do anything. They don't even bother to hide the fact that they lie.

Both sides are playing chicken with our money and our lives. I'm with everyone who says: "ITS THE JOBS STUPID!"

George Carlin on the American Dream. Beware of foul language. It is, after all, George Carlin:

"Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice . . . you don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own, and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying . . . lobbying, to get what they want . . . Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want . . . they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that . . . that doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin' years ago. They don’t want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers . . . Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your fuckin' retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it . . . they’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fuckin' place. It’s a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in The big club. By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted, folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Good, honest hard-working people . . . white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means . . . continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t give a fuck about you . . . they don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t care about you at all . . . at all . . . at all, and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth. It’s called the American Dream cause you have to be asleep to believe it . . .”

Partisan household here, even with guests. We cheered Obama's speech in several places, felt a bit of hope, then listened to Boehner for a couple of minutes -- no chance of compromise there -- turned it off. When people have a stated objective of defeating the President and the stated willingness to destroy the country and its people to do so . . . I keep thinking of Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake."
If a country is to be judged on how it treats its young, old, sick, least powerful -- well, I really hated to give F's when I was teaching, but sometimes there's no other grade possible.

I just heard a rumor that the House is going to try to impeach Obama if he doesn't agree to their demands.

Talk about sick. I'm sick to death that an entire Party would hold not only their own country hostage for political gain, but the entire world economy. Man, if this is true, it takes megalomania to higher heights than even Hitler aspired to.

Karen in Ohio...I feel for you. But I'm stuck with DeMint and Graham. And Tim Scott.

I have rare been as nauseated by the mechanics of how our country runs (or doesn't, considering) than I am today.

What I find appalling is that I have yet to hear one pol or pundit report what is all too obvious from this ant's-eye level: all the sanctimonious slashing of "entitlements" (what a weaselly aristocratic-sounding word) will result in a significant increase in the number of people in poverty, and is likely to reduce the ability of those not in poverty to contribute to charitable organizations that help to relieve them. It's truly the most inhumane attitude I have ever witnessed, and there doesn't seem to be an affective counter to it, whether through organizations or through demonstrations.

Surprising that so many don't believe in Darwin's theories, because this is a most blatant example of "survival of the fittest" (when you can assure that you will be the fittest).

Who has a big enough megaphone to speak for the lobbyless millions?

Karen, Aside from the stupidity of the caps on Medicare and FICA tax that apply to anybody making pro athlete money, athletes pay more in taxes as a group. One thing is athletes pay taxes in each state they play away games in. So, Pulos, pays Ohio for the Cardinals whipping the Reds. Now, many athletes do choose to live in states like Florida without state income taxes.

Every few years a state tries to tax airline pilots for the time over said state. IRS says nope to that one.

One little extra thing about the working poor.

There are about 1,000,000 foodservice workers in the US. Most make around $10.00 an hour or less. They work in hot, dangerous conditions. Many of them work two jobs. Almost none of them have sick days.

I don't mean health insurance. Many of them (us, I am one of those million) have an option of health insurance. It would be about 50% of my take home pay if I chose it. I mean sick days. For most foodservice workers being too sick to work is the same as quitting. At the very least it is an unpaid day that may lead to a schedule cut. The general rule is well enough to stand upright, well enough to work. We have no choice. So yes, I should have stayed home or gone to the doctor, but to get paid, I coughed on your food.

Something to tuck away for the next news report on Avian Flu.

Folks, I'm glad you're discussing this on TLC, but please, please make these feelings known to your Congresspeople. Jam their offices with calls and send them emails. So what if you get a canned message -- I got one from Alan West. I did my duty and made my feelings known. There are a lot of us. Stand up and scream until they listen. NOW!

Alan, I'll cry 'em a river about paying state taxes on $50 million. We should be so lucky.

Elaine, done, and done. Thanks for the nudge.

I confess to having only read Kathy Sweeney's post and Harley's comment before zipping to comment, but I will read more; I just had to say, AMEN. I can't believe that a handful of doctrinaire lunatics are so intransigently tied to their stupid, election-oriented 'promise' that they can't see the whole country rising up around them, begging them to PAY ATTENTION.

Nancy Pickard, could I adopt you as my sister? What you said about no guarantees, and doing inner work . . . yes, a hundred times yes. We could still correct the course of this country if we could find a way to keep frightened and poorly-educated people from running like lemmings to support whatever tea partier or other extremist who tells them an intractable adherence to ONE policy will fix everything.

We are a middle income, way under 70,000, now working poor family. We have insurance but can't afford to go to the Drs because the premiums are too high and the co-pays are too much because we need to go to the grocery store, and trying to raise a family.

The minute the so called "new healthcare" was voted in, our world started to collapse around us with expenses... and nothing was suppose to change, at least for a few years. Our government ' "SAID" it would stay the same and it wouldn't increase... LIE!

Our healthcare insurance premiums were $3,800 last year, and now went up over $6,500 more a year to OVER $10,000 - it comes out of my pay every week. Then our co-pays went from $10 to $40, and I can't even think about prescription costs, plus healthcare tests, even though we have a coverage. What the government said "would not happened" - happened to us! It's NOT affordable anymore!

On top of all of this, the portion of healthcare that the company provides is considered a benefit - then we pay taxes on it 2 boot!

So much for FREE healthcare, our family is paying for others to go, when we can't.

The government spending for everything is WAY out of control. Stop the madness.

Karen, when Mom was ill and unable to get out, we realized that the only way we could be sure she had a 'real meal' in her day was MoW. Her 'lunch' from the service was a home-made sandwich--two slices of so-so 'wheat bread' with a leaf of lettuce and cheese-or-balogna-or-PBJ. She ate half for lunch and half for dinner, with a piece of fruit if there was still some left from when my brother could drop by every week or two. She cancelled the service after a week or so, telling me that there were others that needed that sandwich far more than she did. Although she wasn't thinking straight enough to take very good care of herself, she still cared about the wider world.

Working class POOR, I feel for you, but it's not because of the new healthcare law that your premiums went up.

My husband and I have been self-insured (and self-employed for 30 years. EVERY year of that time our premiums have gone up; this year they went up less than previously, and my premiums actually went down a few dollars a month.

Health insurance is our single largest expense, other than mortgages. It's $18,000 a year, and that is just for my husband and me, no kids. We don't have prescription drug coverage, and we have very high deductibles, and that's been true for the last five years.

Yes, it's, as the Yiddish would say, a shanda. That is what the new healthcare law was supposed to fix, but Congress wouldn't go for the plan Obama proposed, added their own crap-thrown-at-wall-to-see-what-sticks, and the resulting law is nothing but a mess.

I see everyone complaining about food - what about the people with food issues/allergies/celiac disease/peanut allergies?? Many people cant eat bread/wheat or even eggs! There is no help for them, no where to go for meals on wheels, NOTHING is out there for them.

And Alan P. you coughing on peoples food is disgusting, no matter what, that is awful! You never know who would get hurt from that, even an innocent child could suffer, or die from what is taken to their home from you. And for the record, that is illegal and a crime to purposely do something unhealthy to food as a server.

The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are "individuals" and therefore have the right to "Free Speech" i.e. giving as much to a political party as they want. Why aren't we taxing them as individuals?

Nameless, I don't think Alan P. meant that he himself intentionally coughed on anyone's food. I think he was using that "I" to make a point.

And Margaret, Amen. The implications of treating corporations as individuals are sickening. Corporations exist for financial purposes and their mandate is to make money -- isn't it? Presumably human beings are something more than that.

I love TLC.

Working class poor...we got a very unpleasant surprise this year. My husband, who has never used his health insurance for anything, (I have Medicare and am not on his policy) had his deductible raised from $2000 to $10,000. No that's not a typo...ten thousand dollars. A year.

On the other hand, the new health care rules stopped my brother-in-law's COBRA payments from jumping from $267/month to over $700/month and allowed him to live a little longer and my sister not to lose her house after his death in April.

Oh tom I wish I'd said that. Certainly would put things in perspective for a lot of people, right? Sadly, I think the Right is too polarized as is the Left. How I wish I had the answer.

Karen, about those educational benefits . . . I probably shouldn't say this in a public forum, but our sheriff's department has a clever way of training new sheriff's deputies and corrections officers. They do this in conjunction with the local community college (the same one that saw fit to allow Gerald Loughner stay in class - long beyond any reason - while he was disruptive and frightening).

What they do is hire new recruits who are responsible for paying for their training if they don't make the cut (or if they quit) at any point during their first year of service. The training, popularly called "boot camp" is offered by the community college, but is held at the sheriff's department and taught by sheriff's deputies.

If a recruit is a GI, he/she is a very desirable candidate for the sheriff's department - but perhaps not for the reason you might think. The GI Bill will pay for their training, even if the GI doesn't make the cut.

What happens to the young recruit who doesn't make the cut? And many do not, by the way. They usually believe they will, however, because they made it through their other bootcamp and their advanced training in the service. But many do not make the cut, because more than enough are recruited. Someone has to go.

Then guess what. Their GI Bill educational benefits are gone. That was their one shot at getting their training paid for in return for their service. That happened to one of my sons. He was let go after training. Didn't make the cut. He went over to the college that supposedly offers the program, to see if he might be able to apply his "course credits" to another degree program. Not only did it not directly translate to any other degree offering, but the programs he might be able to apply some credits to would require him to take many more courses. He would have to pay for them entirely by himself, because he had used up all his service-related education benefits with the sheriff's department. Nice deal for the sheriff and a few successful deputies. Bad deal for the recruits.

Great quote, Ramona.

Tom -- well put! I'll just ditto that.

Oh Judith, those are the horror stories that all sensible people fear. xo

OK gotta go hear what Kieth Olberman has to say about all this on his new show ... .

Ah, I see we have a shrew loose on TLC, maybe two. I’m always a bit skeptical of folks who won’t sign their name to a diatribe.

WorkingClassPoor—I do not believe you when you say that your employer-paid portion of your premium is taxed. There are some benefits that are considered imputed income but health insurance is not one of them. In fact, much of the time your premiums are considered pre-tax dollars and reduce your taxable income. (there is a provision coming in 2018 wherein the ‘cadillac’ health insurance coverage provided by employers will carry an excise tax to be paid by the employer, but most of us won’t see that kind of coverage.)

If you are a family of 4 or more and making less than $70,000 annually, then you should be cheering for the new law. You will be entitled to a insurance premium tax credit/subsidy that should cover about half of your premium costs. Starts Jan 1, 2014

You stated that the very minute the Health Care act was signed, March 23, 2010, your costs went up. Unless you changed employers or had a significant life event-like marriage, birth, etc., it’s highly unlikely that your premiums went up in March or April. Group insurance operates on a calendar year basis. I suppose there may be an exception somewhere, but I would need evidence to believe it.

I’m curious about what changes in your coverage or type of plan, insurance provider, etc. took place between last year and this year.

I don’t think anybody anywhere mentioned free health care as a part of PPACA.

BTW, since Jan. 1 of this year, my husband and I have incurred more than $50,000 in medical expenses and have paid nearly $10,000 out-of-pocket. And the year is only half over. Our income isn’t much over $70,000.

I love the smart, fearless folks of TLC, and the honest dialogue that happens here.

I think if you're going to say something that you're afraid to sign your name to, needing to hide behind 'nameless' or 'working class poor', you should think about whether it needs saying, or why you don't want your actual identity linked with it.

I had a minor run-in with the Emergency Room earlier this year, and am gratefully paying off the remainder of my few thousand bill a bit at a time, thankful that I had insurance that took some of the load (even if I have had to sacrifice to keep that expensive self-employed insurance paid for), glad for the superb team that took good care of me and deserve to be paid as much as the rest of us do for our hard work. Some of my gratitude, though, comes from knowing that I actually can and will pay this off without it sinking my ship, as medical bills have done for so many, ruining lives and destroying family resources, in the past three decades.

Mary Lynn, may health and stability visit your home, big-time, and the bills gradually shrink.

Mary Lynn, you're my hero!

Congratulations, Kathy! You've attracted what I take to be your first webspider-attached Astroturfing Troll.

Tom - you should see my e-mails!

Thanks to all of you who spoke so candidly. I printed this out, redacted the names, and sent it old-school fax to select offices in Congress and to the White House, along with my own PA Reps and Senators.

The cover page says simply: "Fix It, Asshats."

I did use my own real name, so I wonder if I will get any responses.

Today I am going to keep trying to get humans on the phone - yesterday was an exercise in futility (would that be ironic, or just tragic) trying to get to speak with an elected official. I understand most of the Congressional and White House contact websites and phone banks were flooded.

Maybe someone will get the message. If not, we need to be prepared to take this to the streets.

Kathy, the Coffee Party had a rally at every Congressperson's home district office yesterday. I have not heard how that went, and you know the media is not going to talk about it.

Brava to you, my dear.

Yes, Kathy -- Brava!

Karen in Ohio -- I have Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, nuff said??? I hang my head in shame and cannot believe I just wrote that out in black and white. I tried all day yesterday to get emails to my senators and congressmen. It was an endless loop of failed emails. I am in the process of starting again. Fix it Asshats!!!

Denise, do you live close to Cincinnati? You could join our group of women who want change, if you are.

No, Karen, I live at the far western end of KY, a few miles from Paducah. Otherwise, I would be honored to join your group for change.

Paducah is amazingly far from here, otherwise I'd say join us, anyway!

Kathy S.
I'll admit it, I don't usually follow up your blog links when you send them, but the subject matter this time truly intrigued me. I have been following the comments since yesterday, and have written two emails each to Senators Casey and Toomey (and received one form letter email reply from Senator Toomey, touting his support for Cut, Cap, and Balance, to which I replied that, without a willingness to increase revenues through sensible and fair taxes, that bill is a sham).
The sad thing is, there are REAL issues which out representatives should be addressing: among them, unemployment and underemployment, healthcare, education, the environment, our crumbling infrastructure. While the federal deficit is a serious problem, raising the debt ceiling should be a slam dunk, as it always has been, NOT the central issue of our government for the past six months.
This needs to be resolved, and resolved in a way that it does not to be addressed again in the near future. As citizens, we must demand that our elected officials work together for the welfare of the people, and turn their efforts to the real issues of the time.

True governance is substance, NOT shadows.
K. Oravec

Think I'll be doubling up on my BP medicine just to watch the news. Who are these people who can't govern? It is a disgrace. After working 3 campaigns, I can understand how these people got in and stay in. The politicians are counting on the fact that Americans are ignorant about the issues and many, many do not vote. The politicians would be correct. I am not sure what can be done but I feel like we are making a really bad turn. Are we falling like the Romans, the British and many others? Scary days.

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