By Barbara Shelly
Kansas City Star
Every day for a week and a half I’ve been checking the mail and still it hasn’t arrived.
My gift, I mean.
I was one of the 50 percent of American voters who chose Barack Obama in the presidential election. So surely there’s a gift awaiting me. So say Mitt Romney and some other Republicans, who have been suggesting that Obama won not because anyone thinks he’s moving the country in the right direction, but because he promised us all free stuff.
Really. As Bill O’Reilly said on Fox News on election night, “There are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama.”
Last week, while speaking on a conference call to fundraisers and donors, Romney elaborated on what some of that stuff might be.
“With regard to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” he said, according to reporters who listened in on the call. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people.”
Helping young people
OK, fine. Obama pushed for policies to help young people get a start on their lives, and lots of them voted for him. Knock me over with a feather, will you?
But I still don’t see what’s in it for me. As a woman of a certain age, I have no use for contraceptives, free or otherwise. My husband and I are working hard to get one last college student out of undergraduate school debt free. And even Obama, or Santa Claus, if you prefer, has shown no interest in my big idea, which is that kids in their 20s who get jobs with health care should carry their middle-aged parents on their policies.
More from Mitt: “You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it. ... I mean, this is huge.”
I’ll say! It was huge when Romney made free or low-cost health care available to working-class people when he was governor of Massachusetts. Back then it was seen as great public policy. Now, as part of Obamacare, it’s a handout.
The unmistakable inference of all this is that Obama voters are freeloaders, whereas Romney appealed to a higher, though smaller, group of unselfish citizens — like senior citizens on Medicare and very wealthy Americans hoping to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
It’s the 47 percent debacle, rehashed.
To be fair, more enlightened Republicans realize that the road to redemption in national elections needs to steer clear of insulting entire blocs of people.
If Obama is still working on his gift list, I am in the market for a heavy-duty, stainless steel soup kettle. Otherwise, I will content myself with knowing that we, as a nation, are a step closer toward health care security for all citizens and that we have a president who cares about things like clean energy and the yawning disparity between the rich and everybody else.
Barbara Shelly is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. Distributed by MCT Information Services.
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