I'm clipping coupons this morning, cutting out a coupon for 75 cents off mayonnaise. Keeping a close eye on the budget is always on my mind. I wonder if I should take Social Security early when I turn 62 this year. I make a calculation on that, wondering if a reduced monthly benefit next year is worth losing $500 a month more when I turn 66. Even if I take Social Security early, I will continue to work my part-time job because my medical insurance premiums and co-pays now exceed $800 a month. I hope the Affordable Care Act will be upheld by the Supreme Court because I cannot leave my current high cost insurance plan because of pre-existing conditions. If the Affordable Care Act survives the politics of a divided Court, then in 2014 (when I will be 63),the insurance companies can no longer discriminate against me for "pre-existing conditions" and I can shop around for an affordable plan. I am grateful for a good union contract that I receive a pension after 27 years of work at my company. Although I got laid off when I was 54 years old, I was able to receive a reduced pension at 55 years old. I'm luckier than most people I know because I have a pension. I willingly paid union dues for many years for that benefit and good working conditions.
Contrary to the conservative politicians' assertion that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was ineffective, the Middle Class benefited a lot from the Stimulus Bill. In 2009, my family was helped by "cash for clunkers" , the credit for my state sales taxes and a reduction in taxes for working people. In 2010, we bought a wood stove and received an income tax cut, plus we lowered our electric bills. We were able to re-finance our home in 2010 and get a 100% loan-to-value government-backed loan and not pay PMI. These provisions of the Stimulus Bill helped us to have more cash on hand to pay our bills, buy some things we needed, and take an annual vacation. Like most middle-class people, most of our wealth comes from our house, Social Security and Medicare. These three things constitute the basis of our financial security. For those who have lost a home in this housing crisis or do not own a home, they will depend on Social Security and Medicare even more for financial security as they get older.
My adult daughters struggle financially, they both have expensive college loans to repay. After a rocky start out of college, they are now working full time and have health care benefits. For different periods between 2007-2010, both of them returned home to live with us when they needed a helping hand.
Why am I sharing with you the details of my personal life? Because there is discordance today between facts and rhetoric. And there is a discordance between the presumptive Republican nominee for President and the actual lives of the vast majority of the American people. Mitt and Ann Romney, I'm sure, never clipped a grocery coupon for 75 cents, although I'm sure they regularly "clip coupons" for bonds they own. I think that a man who earned $21 million in 2011 from investments doesn't understand how the rest of us try to balance a monthly budget where every penny counts. I'm certain that a man who established a $100 million trust fund for his children doesn't understand how hard it is for an underemployed college graduate to pay $146 a month for student loans. A man that owns four mansions doesn't worry about mortgage rates and PMI and whether he'll qualify for a home mortgage for a roof over his head. His homes are part of an investment portfolio, not his major source of wealth in his golden years. A man who owns four cars that don't fit in his garage so that he needs to spend $12 million in renovations to his La Jolla, California house to include an elevator for his cars doesn't care that some of us really appreciated saving thousands of dollars on a new car that is our primary source of transportation.
I feel a discordance with this man, Romney. Our values and our lives seem so different. I've never insulted a host who generously placed food in front of me.
I've never beat-up a person who looks or acts differently from me. I've never treated an animal inhumanely because I didn't want him in my car. I've never advocated the destruction of unions whose very existence provided me with a good living, justice on the job, and a retirement pension. But then I never derived an income from destroying companies, workers' jobs, and pension plans.
Discordance is what I see when I hear other middle class people like me say they think they might vote for Mitt Romney for President.