See the world

Come see the world with me, and all it will cost is a couple of gallons of gas. Granted, with the supply chain disruptions in the Midwest – a ruptured pipeline in Wisconsin and equipment problems that shut down refineries in Indiana and Illinois – that’s nearly the cost of a couple of lattes a week. But it will be worth it.

For the past several weekends, I’ve been knocking on doors in Orange County, in neighborhoods outside of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, to educate voters about the importance of re-electing President Obama. Now that Republican candidate-apparent Mitt Romney has chosen Paul Ryan as his running mate, the choice for voters has never been clearer. Ryan, in his seventh term as a U.S. representative from Wisconsin, chairs the House Budget Committee and has pushed such ideas as privatizing Social Security (this, right before the economy collapsed in 2008) and dismantling Medicare. He shares Romney’s belief of cutting taxes for people earning more than $200,000 a year and raising the taxes of those making less than $200,000 annually.

I’ve always been fiscally conservative and hold the belief that hard work pays off, so the thought of the taxes on my middle-class earnings going to support the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as the Romney-Ryan tax plan would do, awakens the outrage that women my age are famous for. Being self-employed, I pay twice the Social Security that someone paid by an employer pays (I pay the portion of both the employee and the employer), so I’ve got a greater stake in making sure Social Security and Medicare are still around when I retire.

Walking through neighborhoods in and around Hillsborough over the past month, I’ve talked with folks on both sides of the $200,000 divide. I’ve had a first-hand look at the conveniences money can buy and how priorities change when income streams tighten or are cut off completely.

Join me and other Obama campaign volunteers some weekend. We’ll see how America lives and take a stand for making life better for all of us.

To arrange for a time to volunteer, contact Orange County campaign coordinator Alex Pugh at or 919-699-8518, or email me at
– Nancy Oates

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  1. WJW

     /  August 13, 2012

    I know I will never change your mind about Obama, but I would like to comment on two things in your post.

    a) You wrote that Ryan wants to dismantle Medicare. That is simply a false statement. As a writer, shouldn’t you choose your words more carefully? Ryan wants to reform Medicare, not destroy it. This is not just a semantic point. There is a definite difference in a reader’s mind between the words “dismantle” and “reform”.

    Now you may think Ryan’s reforms are the wrong way to go, you may hate Ryan’s reforms with a MSNBC passion, that is all fine as that is your opinion on what you think should be done with Medicare. But please do not resort to words such as “dismantle” to play on people’s emotions, instead of making your case on why Ryan’s reforms are worse than Obama’s proposed $700B in Medicare cuts (over 10 years).

    As President Obama said about a year ago; “…if you look at the numbers, then Medicare in particular will run out of money and we will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up.”

    The way to end Medicare as we know it, is to continue with Medicare as we know it. The money will run out, maybe not on you, but most likely on folks in their 30’s and 40’s.

    b) You also wrote that “I pay twice the Social Security that someone paid by an employer pays (I pay the portion of both the employee and the employer),”. You do not pay more in social security (or Medicare) taxes than a regular employee.

    An employer’s perspective is all about TOTAL compensation. Based on my experience across several companies, the employer cares about the total cost of the employee to the company, NOT whether that cost is being paid as income or benefits or taxes or groceries. How much is the total cost is the question.

    Let me propose a scenario, let’s say a law was passed tomorrow that the regular employee had to pay out of his/her own pocket the 6.2% of FICA (social security) taxes the employer pays to the federal government on behalf of the employee. In other words, the employee would now have to pay 12.4% of income to the feds for FICA, just like you as an independent, have to do now. An employee making $70K would now have to pay an additional $4,340 in FICA. One of two things would happen:
    1) The employer, no longer having to make the payment of 6.2% of employee income costs, would NOT pay the employee (in our example) the $4,340 in FICA. The employer’s total compensation cost would decrease by $4,340. Every employer would increase their profitability by 6.2% of employee income costs that they used to pay to FICA; or
    2) Our hypothetical employee would scream that their paycheck was reduced by $4,340 for FICA and would demand the employer pay them more to make them whole.

    I think item #2 would be more likely, as from the employer’s perspective paying the $4,340 directly to the feds for FICA OR paying it to the employee as income is irrelevant, it is all part of the same total compensation costs.

    If you think that item #1 is more likely, then if the employer has that kind of power, why doesn’t the employer just simply reduce their employee’s salaries right now?

    Sorry for the length.

  2. Terri Buckner

     /  August 13, 2012

    I agree with Nancy’s use of the term ‘dismantle’ regarding Ryan’s plan for Medicare. His plan, as I understand it, is to privatize a program that is now a “federal” health insurance policy. To move the program from a federal program to a private program is dismantlement of the original and starting over with a new program.

    What Nancy left out is the gutting of Medicare by shifting the funding mechanism to federal block grants to the states. Anyone who has been paying any attention to state and local budget issues recently knows that the cost for social services are consistently being pushed down to the counties with less and less funding to meet the demand.

    In the long run, any program that shifts costs from a federal guarantee to private, profit-motivated, program is inevitably going to add to the cost of health care for everyone. The basis of this argument is the conservative desire to drastically reduce the size and impact of the federal government (except for the military).

  3. Nancy Oates

     /  August 14, 2012

    Romney has supported Ryan’s budget plan that includes ending Medicare in favor of making direct payments to senior citizens to use to buy their own health insurance. He factors in no cost increase for the insurance. Some people don’t manage money well, and will not use the money to buy adequate health insurance, or the insurance they can afford won’t cover all their expenses, or they have pre-existing conditions and won’t be able to get insurance. (Romney has said his first act as president would be to “kill health care reform, kill it dead.”) When seniors without sufficient insurance or funds to cover health care get sick (and they will; the body breaks down at a certain point), the states will have to cover the cost. Sick people will go to state hospitals, which can’t refuse treating them. Medicare is a safety net so all of this doesn’t happen, and as such, it needs to be run by the government not individuals of varying degree of money management ability.

    Medicare as it traditionally has existed does need reform; our whole health-care delivery does, and Obama’s health-care reform bill is beginning the process. Some preventive care is covered now, leading to reduced hospital inpatient bills later on, and the reform bill has prompted some hospitals to beef up their outpatient clinics for management of chronic conditions to reduce the likelihood patients will reach a crisis point that requires inpatient care.

    Ryan also wants to replace Medicaid with a lump sum payment to states to administer. Some states will be more compassionate about caring for the poor than others, and some will have more poor to care for than others.

    Ryan’s budget also called for Social Security to be privatized, a move that would enrich already wealthy stockbrokers and money managers at the expense of the working- and middle-class folks who would have to pay the trading fees and brokerage commissions.

    My vote will go to the candidate who will fight for the interests of the middle and working classes and the poor.

  4. WJW

     /  August 14, 2012

    My point is about demonizing language. If you all really believe that Ryan is dismantling or ending Medicare (or killing grandmas by throwing them off a cliff [sorry, couldn’t help but throw that example of an over-the-top extreme left-wing political commercial] ), then there is nothing to discuss. I am part of the conservative minority (what, about 25-35%?) in Chapel Hill and hear hyperbole quite a bit from the left and just usually just shake my head and chose not to engage. Cause if you can’t agree on some basic language and facts, then there is no point.

    Again, I am not trying to convince you (Ms. Oates) that Ryan’s plan is better than Obama’s. I know that is futile, however I would like mention three main facts about Ryan’s plan.

    1) It doesn’t impact anybody above the age of 55. So existing seniors and those for the next 10 years would see no changes.
    2) Those below the age of 55 would STILL have the CHOICE of keeping traditional Medicare. There would just be ADDITIONAL choices.
    3) Ryan and Obama cap overall Medicare spending at about the same amount.

    Now, again, you may think that giving people in the future choices is a bad idea (maybe cause you think that some people would make bad choices and therefore everybody should have no choices?), that is your opinion. But that is not dismantling Medicare. It is reforming Medicare. If we can’t agree on that, then I guess I’ll just shake my head and wait until you post again on local topics.


  5. Nancy Oates

     /  August 15, 2012

    WJW —

    One more nit to pick: In order for the choice plan to benefit the government, it would have to have a certain number of people who make a choice that is not in their best interest: High-users of the health-care system to opt for insurance coverage not as comprehensive as Medicare. The federal government would save money by not having to cover their medical expenses, and the state would have to pick up the cost of whatever the privately insured or non-insured users couldn’t pay. Putting in place a plan that succeeds only at the expense of naive users is mean. And shifting the cost to state taxpayers in order to make the federal government look good is disingenuous at best.