An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

How exactly does one address you anyway? I’m thinking that from this point forward, I’m just going to say Sir. Mr. President is just too awkward and formal. Not to say that I shouldn’t be formal when addressing you, you are after all, the leader of the free world. I just mean… I’m just not a formal sort of person and, well… Yeah. Oh, and since we’re talking about me… Since I’m talking about me… That sounds odd… Since I’m laying out my own particular peculiarities before I get to the meat of my letter, I should probably warn you, I have a tendency to ramble (Duh). And I have a tendency to curse. And although I’m writing this and not actually speaking to you, I am not going to censor myself. First Amendment and all that.


Where the hell did I just go with all that?

Sorry. Where was I?


Dear Sir,

I’d like to start off by saying that I voted for you. 4 times. I did have to vote for you in the 2012 primary right? I can’t remember. I am still so proud to have voted for you. I am proud to tell my mixed-race-raised-by-a-single-mom teenager that I had a teeny tiny part in a massive (and long overdue) part of American history. But, I’m kinda hurt. Because I believed in you. I really still do, but I have to say, I’m kinda feeling like the robust “Yes We Can!” has turned into a meek sort of, “Ok, maybe we can. If it’s alright with you of course.”

I’m pretty sure that you intended (and still do, I think) to really help families like mine. Because we’re drowning here Bub… Sorry. We’re drowning here Sir. And you know, it’s not just us. Millions. MILLIONS of Americans are working their asses off and just barely scraping by. Deathly afraid of that pipe bursting, or that transmission breaking, or that medical bill that insurance just won’t cover. Because that’s all it would take to send their family hurtling into a vat of quicksand that they may never get out of.

We’re not poor. There are families out there far worse off than us. But we (the collective we as a country) do help them out, just a little bit. And still, they do need more help, because even the few who manage to get pulled out of the hole they’re in, dust themselves off, look around and realize, they’re in an even deeper hole. And this time, the sides are smooth and slippery.

And honestly? I don’t want a rope. I want it to be a hill, not a cavern. Something I actually have a chance of climbing up.

You know, I have a college education. Nothing fancy, just a BA in Psychology. I sometimes ponder going back for my Master’s, but honestly? Even if I could find the time, we can’t afford any more debt. But still, I have a college degree. I have a good job. Job security even, which a lot of people still can’t say, regardless of what record highs the DOW hit this week. My husband works hard too. No college, just a solid, blue-collar job and the best work ethic of anyone I’ve ever met. But together, we are barely making it.

We don’t live beyond our means. I bought my house when I was still a single mom, and I made sure I didn’t buy something I couldn’t afford. I bought the house before the housing crash, but I was (mostly) smart and I got a decent, fixed interest rate on a 30-year loan. You’d think that adding my husband’s income to the pot (although he doesn’t make as much as I do) would make it smooth sailing, but somehow, the storm keeps on blowing. We don’t have car loans, minimal credit card debt (although I’d much rather have none) and we budget our money very tightly.

I pay almost $400 a month for healthcare premiums. That would be my employer-sponsored health care plan. Which is a pretty damn good one as those things go.  Because of the SCHIP program, my children also qualify for Medicaid as a secondary insurance. Which may not last much longer given the way Congress seems eager to cut any program that actually helps real people. And I am SO thankful for the extra assistance because my oldest, Princess Punk, is Type 1 diabetic. Did you know that there is no such thing as generic insulin? Without the assistance from Medicaid, our pharmacy co-pays alone would break us. Even with the Medicaid, we still have $20 co-pays for each doctor visit. Between Princess Punk’s D-Monster and my own chronic health issues (which I really don’t want to get into), we spend about $100 a month on doctor visits alone. Plus co-pays for my medications which are NOT covered… And God forbid something major happens. Emergency room? $50. I’m still waiting for the bill for my recent surgery to repair my jaw. My surgeon was “out-of-network,” not because I was being picky, but because he was one of the few in the state who actually do jaw joint repairs and I don’t think any of them are “in-network.” It’s going to be a minimum of 2 grand. I still have no clue how we’re going to pay that. Oh, and I haven’t been able to do my post-op physical therapy either, each of those visits are $20 too and I already owed them $200 from before the surgery.

So that’s the healthcare issue…

There’s also the fuel thing… I spend a good $50 a week on gas. My husband, The Zen Master, spends $50 too. It’s not like we’re gallivanting around all over the place. I have a 40 mile round-trip to work every day. The Zen Master? 20 miles. Add another 40 at least once a week for doctor appointments. We don’t really go anywhere else. And we heat our not-very-energy-efficient-house with not-very-energy-efficient-kerosene. Oh, and the stove and hot water heater are propane. Plus electric. And water (not fuel, but still…). Altogether? And this is a very rough estimate… Maybe $4000 a year? And I love the idea of energy efficient homes and water heaters and insulation, but the reality for us (and I think 90% of other people in our “tax bracket”) is those things aren’t helpful for us. We can’t retrofit our house. Even if we could, there’s no way we could afford it. Do you actually know how much solar panels cost? I think maybe, if they were around $100, it would be worth it. $200 even. And that would have to be with installation of course. And buying a brand new house with all that stuff already there?                       …                                                                          Whew… Sorry, I had to stop and laugh a little bit. The idea of being able to scrape together enough money for a down payment, not to mention actually selling our hou…                             …                                                                OHMIGOD, it’s so ridiculous I can’t even breathe right now!

Let me just compose myself.

And the taxes suck. And I understand that we have to pay taxes, but I honestly don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. Especially when all those guys out there making 3 and 4 and 100 times (I could go on, seriously) as much as me are getting more coupons than a Sunday Flier. How come I don’t get the 99% special? See how I did that there? Funny right? Maybe not… I’d like to know why I pay a fair portion of my income to the federal, state, AND local government and yet our roads have potholes that will break the axle on my car. No joke, my last car actually suffered that fate. And we have to pay out the ass (gross phrase, I know but I can’t think of a better way to phrase it) for health care. And my teenager goes to a school that, while safe, is not providing her the education she needs to actually excel in this world. She’s not a fantastic student, but she’s smart and she tries hard most of the time. The harsh truth is, she is a good, but average student and she is never going to get a scholarship unless it’s for soccer (maybe basketball, but not super-likely) and even then, she’s probably not going to get a full-ride. She’s a great player, but so are a lot of other kids and competition is fierce and funds are limited. And thanks to some extremely helpful family friends, we have a scholarship fund set up for her and my 18-month-old, The Peach. But right now, there’s maybe enough in there for 1 class and a textbook. And most people don’t even have that much. So my bright, funny, amazing kid, is going to start her adult life at least $50,000 dollars in debt. Assuming she could actually get enough loans to cover tuition and books and boarding and… you know… Food. Oh, and if she wants to go to grad school? I don’t even want to think about how far that would put her in the hole.

I really thought that you might save us.

Right now, I’m not feeling so saved.

I don’t understand why you can’t convince those other guys up there on that Hill, they’re really not helping us. And I think you need to convince some of the people in the same situation as me too. Because they voted for those guys, and I don’t think they understand that those guys really don’t have our best interests at heart. You know, US. Not you. I love ya Mr. President, and even though you were here at some point, you’re no longer one of US.  The Real America. The people that work 60 hours a week to pay their bills and eat beans for dinner because they can’t afford 1.99 a pound for chicken that isn’t half fat, skin and bone (that’d be the price when it’s on sale). But I think you remember US. And you understand. And maybe those guys on that Hill (Maybe. A few.) really do believe they have our best interests at heart. Maybe they do think that you can just pull yourself up by your bootstraps and that if your boss gets paid more, they’ll pay you more in turn. But that’s just not reality. I’m not naïve or ignorant, I know that there are some people out there that have done just that. People that have somehow found footholds in that smooth wall and managed to pull themselves out of this hole. But I can’t help thinking that they might have unintentionally (or maybe intentionally, who knows?) scraped away those footholds in their scramble to get out, and now the rest of us are stuck here.

So maybe you can restore my faith. In This Country. In Our Government. In You. Maybe you can convince those guys that they work for US and right now? They are failing miserably.

Because I’d really like to get out of this hole.

Sincerely, and with the utmost respect,

Mrs. Newlife


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: An Open Letter to A Random Mail Clerk | newlifeinvermont

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