Greetings, Mr. Romney,
I’m writing to you from my office. Well, not so much an office as a really nice chair. Before this chair, I had a really nice computer desk in one corner of the dining room where the kids now do homework. Before that, I had a really nice office. That room is the sleeping room now. That’s what we call it since we only have one bedroom for all our children to sleep in, like a barracks. But the girls love it, and every now and then they get giddy because everyone has agreed to trade beds for a night, and everyone gets a new responsibility, a new opportunity – to turn off the light, to pick the station on the radio, to set the alarm clock for school and shut it off in the morning.
I hope you don’t mind if I talk on and on about my kids, Mitt. But, you see, my joy comes from my family more so than my work. It’ll never be a high paying investment, unless someone pays out what the bushel and a peck of love from that song I sing to my kids was really worth. I’ve chosen family over work multiple times. When my first daughter was born in 2004, I knew immediately that I wanted to give her the sense of security and closeness that having a stay-at-home parent had brought me. So I quit my job and began writing freelance from home, where I could be with my children all day long, writing children’s books and classroom curriculum materials, first from my office, then my desk, and now my chair.
My wife continued to work in part because she made more than I did, but mainly because she had great medical benefits, critical for infertility treatments to have our first child to begin with. And when she left that job for a new one, at a smaller business with no health insurance, we kept it by using COBRA to get pregnant again. We had to go on COBRA because new policies don’t cover that for the first eighteen months. Call it a pre-pre-existing condition, a condition that already exists in the minds of insurance companies who, like you, see those of us who might need help to pay for $20,000 pregnancies as moochers trying to game the system. Perhaps they suspect that women such as my wife are so committed to their “gimme gimmie gimmie” attitude that those same psychically intuitive reproductive systems that your colleague suggested would shut down in the case of “legitimate rape” would also exert themselves as necessary to extend a gestation period to twelve or fourteen months if need be if it meant getting someone else to pay for it. Eighteen months then.
Fortunately we able to at last conceive and deliver an even more difficult to conceive child just under the wire of COBRA eligibility. I imagined the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth on the part of the insurance company when they indeed had to follow through on covering a straightforward, thank goodness, pregnancy and delivery and send back almost seventy-five percent of the eighteen thousand dollars we’d paid them in premiums.
Of course, those were the good old days. Trying to take responsibility for ourselves, just like you want, we took an HSA account plan, to save and pay for our own way. Keeping anything remotely like the coverage we had before would have meant paying ridiculously more today as premiums shot up double-digit percents year after year, despite the assertion that HSA plans were styled to avoid exactly that. But alas, to stay within our meager budget, to pay as we could afford, we’ve raised our annual deductible over, and over, and over again.
We have “catastrophic” level coverage now, meaning we’ll only reach our deductible if one of us gets hit by a truck, or worse. Even at that level, health insurance premiums still eclipse every other bill we have: our house payments, car payments, student loans, and utilities. Beyond that, we’d be hurting beyond the physical pain caused by said truck because the level of our annual deductible is now higher than what we are allowed to contribute to our HSA in any given year. If we reached the deductible next year, we’d already be broke.
Thank goodness the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare, if you will, although that exempts yourself from credit for any good things in that legislation – forces a limit of a nine percent increase in premiums in any given year. I’ll give you three guesses how much they’ve gone up annually since going in effect, but you probably won’t need them.
Depressing, isn’t it? So let’s get to daughter number three. After soul-crushing infertility washed away by successful pregnancies, a miracle surprise. A gift, so kind and empathetic that she would melt your heart if you met her, which I imagine you never will. I can’t imagine a person like her would ever travel in your circles or work for any of your companies. She cares too much about people to ever make money at their expense as you do.
Her name is Kirsten, but you would probably call her “victim.” You see, her unexpected and joyous birth placed us among the 47%. Her one added child deduction brought our federal tax liability to zero, even though we’ve never quite managed to mooch off government so effectively as to stop paying state, county, city, or property taxes.
By now I imagine you’ve determined that I’m one who would vote for Obama “no matter what,” whether because of this letter or because you have detected my government addiction to Stafford loans, energy saving tax credits, and 529 matching plans that I might never escape from. And yes, I’m not voting for you. But I’m not voting for Obama, either. I’m actually one of those independents you were talking about how important it is to court, and have voted across parties, ALL parties, since 1988.
My candidates will lose, but I’ll vote for them because they come closest to the candidates I’m waiting for: who say what they mean and mean what they say. Whose strength comes in admitting weaknesses so they can grow through it. Someone who knows what it’s like to lend a hand when that hand is tired. Someone who might give someone a bill from their wallet when that bill is the only one in there, and is marked “for emergencies.” Someone who would not write off huge swaths of their country because of economic status, political party, nationality, or gender.
Someone like my daughters.
By day, Jason Glaser is a stay-at-home father with three young
daughters. By night, Jason is the author of over sixty nonfiction books
for children and has collaborated on numerous standardized test
preparation and classroom language arts materials. His first fiction
book, "The Prospect," was released in March 2012 by Darby Creek. Jason
has a B.A. in English from Augustana College with minors in Gender
Studies and Classical Studies and a Master of Fine Arts degree from
Minnesota State University, Mankato. He can be found online at jasonglaser.com.