This election season we continue to hear the GOP candidates–despite all evidence to the contrary–claim that the President’s stimulus plan hasn’t done anything or helped anyone. Which made me feel the need to relay this story:
It’s the story of a married couple. A 62-year-old man and his 54-year-old wife. In the fall of 2008 this man lost his job when the construction company he worked for went under. This happened at a time when his wife had recently been declared disabled and was petitioning for disability benefits from the government. The woman suffers from fibromyalgia, diabetes, and a bum ticker. The man has a third world disease (likely contracted as a marine in Vietnam) that causes his esophagus to narrow, and a heart problem as well.
So you can imagine the avalanche of worries that were raining down on their heads. From how do we take care of our sick dog, to what will we eat, to how are we going to keep the house, and please don’t let us get sick.
The man had some severance and knew he would qualify for unemployment but that wouldn’t cover everything. So he began to look for work. This 62-year-old man registered with every temp service, circled every want ad, and networked with everyone he knew. No job came. So they worried.
Thankfully, being a military veteran, the man was able to get free health care from the Veterans Administration in Ann Arbor. A long 3 hour drive, but well worth it. Some more good news followed. The woman was approved for disability benefits and would receive a check (with back pay) the following month. She also found out that in a few months she would qualify for medicare. The man also knew that if they could make it a few more months, he would turn 63 and qualify for social security. If they could just make it until then.
Then something else happened. President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on February 17, 2009. This act (also known as the “stimulus bill”), included tax cuts, works projects, and an extension of unemployment benefits.
That extension carried the man and the woman until he qualified for social security benefits and she for Medicare. Things certainly aren’t perfect for them. They are still learning to live with less and the man’s new job doesn’t pay as well as his previous one, but these social safety nets, (social security, disability, veterans hospital, medicare, unemployment) are keeping them afloat.
So the next time you or someone you know engages in conversation about the “failed” stimulus bill that hasn’t helped anyone, you’ll have at least this one story to tell. A story about a man and a woman whose whole way of life was saved by this admittedly imperfect President and his stimulus package.
A man and a woman who I commonly call mom and dad. So there. Now you know.