Post Elections 2012 – Day 1
Like many of you I sat up last night on the edge of my seat as numbers started to trickle in from counties all across the board. As more of these numbers came through, and many states were able to show where their Electoral votes would be cast, the stress increased. Unlike many people on Facebook and Twitter who claim that last nights election was a landslide, I believe that it was a very tight race. The numbers were very close, no one could really predict who was going to with with any certainty, and the major swing state of Ohio kept showing the candidates as moving between tied and just a couple percents off from being tied. In the end, we were able to accurately declare who the president for the next four years would be.
Today saw a large drop on Wall Street (309 points for DOW @ 12pm ET), and the re-election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. What does this mean for Americans over the next four years? With the elections over, where should we be focusing our attention now? Here is a good place to start:
- Fiscal Cliff
- Health Care Reform (Obamacare)
With the Fiscal Cliff looming ahead we are now looking at a $600 Billion combination of tax increases and spending cuts, which is supposed to address the issue of our debt that tops $16 trillion! What programs will our current administration choose to take money away from? Where will we see this increase in taxes? Let’s take a closer look.
First, we are going to be saying goodbye to the Bush Administration Tax cuts. After their two year extension it has been decided that we would not extend them again for the 2013-2022 time period. We will also see across the board spending cuts. A few things will remain safe, such as the money put into Social Security, but what programs might we lose with these spending cuts?
We are also going to see the expiration of extended Federal Unemployment Benefits. A State will typically provide 26 weeks of unemployment insurance, but due to the long-term unemployment rates there was spending put in place to extend these benefits beyond the 26 weeks. Some areas were even seeing up to 99 weeks worth of unemployment insurance! Between July and December, a scheduled number of 2 million people are slated to lose benefits once this extension expires. Also, let us not forget the costs of Obamacare, which I will cover here briefly.
As if the stability of our economy is not stressful enough, There is still large concern for those Americans who are still unemployed. While the Obama Administration claims they have lowered unemployment over the past few months, numbers show that a major cause of unemployment numbers going down is that many people have stopped reporting as unemployed (stopped reporting does not mean now employed). Our current unemployment is at a rate of 8% (7.9% according to Google Public Data ), and only 58.8% of working age Americans are currently employed!
To put this in perspective Obama is the first president to be re-elected with unemployment at its highest since Franklin D. Roosevelt! Can this be possible, you ask? Look at the unemployment rate over history. Is it Obama’s fault? Well, as to that question I can say that he isn’t the one to blame for starting it all, but I also haven’t seen much in terms of recovery.
What can we do for recovery? While it is hard to say what I would do, and it is hard to tell what Obama will do in his second term, we do know where we need to be heading. Current predictions estimate that we need to be adding 325,000 new jobs every month for the next four years, and currently we are only adding between 150,000 – 200,000 per month.
This is a big issue for me right now. Obama has struggled to put Obamacare into action and during his campaign he promised that if he were re-elected for a second term the first thing he would do would be to fully implement Obamacare, a 10 year cost that is expected to meet or exceed $2.6 trillion (a $1.7 trillion increase over what Obama originally promised it would cost). I want to start off by saying that statement alone really bugs me. We have an employment crisis, an economic crisis, and let’s not forget that Fiscal Cliff we discussed earlier. It seems that these should be the primary focus of Obama’s efforts, not pushing through a bill that is so divided. So what does Obama care mean for you?
Let’s start off with the tax (oh, excuse me, I meant penalty) that will be applied to individuals (families will also have one) who do not carry health care insurance. In 2014 you’re looking at a minimum of $95 per year, increasing up to $650 minimum in 2016, and inflating from there. Oh, and I might note that the minimum applies to individuals with income between $9,500 – $37,000 annually. Making more than that? Be prepared to pay an increase.
Do you have insurance already? Be prepared to either pay insurance plus a tax or switch health care providers because your health care plan will only qualify if it meets the approval of a Committee. Think your safe if you’re covered by your employer? The price on health care will be rising and even though businesses with 50 employees or more will be fined for not providing health care, in some instances it still will be cheaper for some businesses to pay the fine than to offer insurance at the expected increased prices.
I also want to point out that now we are hurting our small business. Remember that job growth we talked about needing earlier? Our small businesses will be what provides a lot of that job growth, but now they will have to contented with offering insurance to employees at an inflated rate or being fined by the government. Talk about discouraging new business and people who want to succeed in life!
While hose are the major points, there are still a few big ticket effects that the full implementation of Obamacare will have on the American people:
Cuts of $716 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare
Annual fees on Health Insurance Providers
40% excise tax increase on annual premiums
Annual fees for manufacturers and importers of branded drugs
2.3% excise tax increase for medical equipment costing over $100
Limits to the annual contributions of a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), where currently none exist
A Medicine Cabinet Tax that prevents you from using your FSA funds to purchase over-the-counter drugs
That is quite the list and very little looks promising for the American people…unless you are low-income or unemployed. Wait, what? Did I forget to mention that if you are low-income or unemployed not only will you continue to get the benefits you already get, but you will also be issued subsidies? That’s right. On top of being exempt from the penalty (tax), the government (hard-working American people) will also pay for these people to have insurance until they become employed again (or start making more money). Talk about an incentive to go out and work (unemployment rates, anyone?).
Has Obama brought about an improved America in his first term? Not in my opinion. If someone is not doing well I do not see the point in re-electing them. Especially with the campaign slogan of, “Let us finish what we started.” This is not promising at all.
So where does that leave us? Could Romney have been a better president? I’m not sure. He would still be faced with solving the unemployment issue and with the Fiscal Cliff that we are approaching, a cliff that we are rushing towards and that I don’t think any candidate could prevent us from going over.
What do I know from the past four years? Obama had 4 years to improve unemployment and our economy but he hasn’t. Instead, Obama is wasting time and money trying to implement Obamacare, a Health Care Reform plan that will hurt many Americans and businesses when he should be focusing his efforts on the more important things.
At the end of the day, however, I must accept that Obama has won the election and will be president for another four years. Can he do better than his first term? Will he push Obamacare all the way through? Will he now change his stance on everything and really drive America into the ground now that the shackles of getting re-elected have been removed? I don’t know. All we can do is hope, and pray, that the American people will pull through and stand up for what they know is right.
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