President Obama took to the stage at Florida Institute of Technology's Clemente Center this morning amidst a crowd of 3000 cheering "4 More Years."
Meanwhile, at FIT's main entrance, a chant of "No More Years" roused the nearly 100 protestors. The divergent groups seem to agree that the November election represents a choice between two paths for the United States, but it's difficult to grasp whether any further notion of common ground still exists in this election cycle, let alone this country. Perhaps it was the sauna-like temperatures today on both the corner of University and Babcock and in the Clemente Center, but I'm feeling up to the challenge. So here goes, I am on a mission to discover the intersection of common values and Obama's policies.
1. Everybody loves their grandma, right? Well, thanks to Obamacare (yes, I really did just say that) there are lots of Florida seniors receiving a discount on their prescription drugs. In Brevard County alone, over 9000 people saved an average of $575 thanks to the closing of the Medicare 'doughnut hole.' Last year, 197,989 Floridians with Medicare used the Affordable Care Act's new Annual Well Visit benefit with no out of pocket costs. That's a lot of grandmas, folks. And let us not forget, Obamacare extended the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund until 2024, which is certainly an improvement from the 2016 date prior to the Affordable Care Act. Is the Affordable Care Act perfect? Of course not, but it is a step in the right direction and one that will be difficult for the GOP to repeal once people start to realize the benefits.
2. Everybody loves money in their pocket, right? Tax cuts are all the campaign rage these days. And if you're a corporation (they are people, my friend... at least according to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and Governor Romney), then the Romney/Ryan ticket has given clues that they'll represent your interests well. But, if you are an actual human (you know, the "people" our founding fathers were referring to when they wrote "We the People?"), lacking a multi-million dollar 401K and caribbean tax shelters, then you, like millions of other Floridians may have noticed that your tax burden has been reduced under Obama. The Making Work Pay Tax Credit allowed an estimated 7.1 million working Florida families to receive a collective $3.5 billion in tax relief in 2010. In 2011, the payroll tax credit provided an estimated 9 million Florida workers $5.7 billion in tax relief. Do those statistics change the fact that there are people still hurting from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? Of course not, but they do indicate an effort on Obama's part to halt the economic free fall.
3. Everybody loves "Made in America," right? Who can argue with an economic plan that places emphasis on manufacturing and research & development within our borders? What could be wrong with more actual things stamped with the proud words "Made in America?" Today in his speech, Obama proposed changing the tax code to reward companies that keep their research & development and manufacturing stateside. Even closer to home, the Obama administration has provided funding to Brevard Workforce to aid career-transitioning workers impacted by the Space Shuttle fleet retirement. It's hard to argue against nation building here at home, especially since so much of the country's debt stems from all the nation building the USA has been doing elsewhere, thanks to Bush's 2 unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In these days of social media and armchair punditry, does civil political dialogue even exist? I mean, who hasn't felt compelled to click "Hide" when confronted with yet another political rant from a Facebook friend? I can't be the only one. But why shouldn't we be discussing the political choices facing our nation, in the election that both sides deem "the most important in our lifetime?" How can we not?
Today while at Obama's grassroots event at FIT I had the opportunity to speak with people from both political polarities, and I am convinced that all is not lost. That we all love our grandmothers, money in our pockets, and the precious words "Made in America" is a start.