I went through this list in my head, and it sounded fairly substantial to me. So I wanted to share this with folks to see that (1) what happens in Congress matters and (2) the Obama administration has done a lot of good things that are beneficial at least to me.

The recent Health Care Reform (Obamacare) has benefited myself and my family in many ways:

  • Because our 2 year old son has “pre-existing conditions”, we were not able to change our healthcare plan before HCR provision went into affect in September. We are in the process of applying for a new plan, and should be able to get it. If we get the plan we’re shooting for, it will save us about $100 per month, have lower deductibles, and just generally be a better fit for our family now.
  • Under HCR, our LLC can write-off health care premiums BEFORE social security tax is taken. This means that if our insurance premiums are about $5000 per year, we will save about 13% of that or about $650 on our taxes.
  • My step sister, who is finishing up college now, was kicked off her mother’s health insurance one week before the HCR provisions went into affect that would let her stay on her mother’s plan until she turns 26. She’s now in the process of getting back on her mother’s insurance plan. If she couldn’t have done that, she would have had to buy a more expensive plan herself that is hard to afford for a student.

Other tax cuts as part of the stimulus and elsewhere have saved us hundreds of dollars in taxes, and will save us hundreds on our taxes next year.

We are also currently in the process of refinancing our house under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). This program, which is widely regarded as a failure because people are not using it for various reasons, is going to help us save about $200 per month on our mortgage. Because we initially purchased our home with just 5% down and home values have dropped, we would not have the 80% loan-to-value ratio needed to qualify for a refinance without this program. I don’t want to jinx it, but it looks like it will work for us.

There is also a ton of potential legislation that may impact myself or people close to me.

  • Job growth ideas that focus on tax credits for creating jobs (like Joe Sestak proposes) vs. tax cuts for wealthy individuals and businesses (like most Republicans favor) could affect our business. We are on the cusp of hiring contractors or employees for our business. I would be more likely to hire someone if there were more credits in place for that vs. tax cuts that won’t affect me (unless we do really really well next year ;).
  • Candidates who are more hawkish are more likely to extend our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or engage in new wars in Iran, etc. Less war = less chance my brother who is in the air force will spend more time at war. Obama is 50/50 on this so far, having drawn down forces in Iraq while sending more troops to Afghanistan. I do think that (a) someone like John Mccain would have resulted in higher troops counts at war than this, (2) Obama does seem to be serious about withdrawal dates and should draw things down in Afghanistan according to plan, and (c) he is more likely to use diplomacy to handle situation in Iran, etc.

I hope this list helps you to identify ways that your own life has been improved by recent government actions. Even if you don’t have any personal accounts like this, you can at least see how it has affected someone like me: a middle class small business owner with a new family.