Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thank You


Over the last 5 and a half years, the pure passion and dedication I have seen from the people who have worked alongside me on this campaign has been unparalleled. But what united us was not just our love for President Obama but, more importantly, the idea that we all had a small role to play in how our nation moves forward.

For me, it all started when Jason Waskey asked me to volunteer for the then-Senator Obama’s campaign for Presidency. I was almost done with my senior year in high school and needed to find something to spend my time with. And although I was immediately attracted to the Obama campaign and what it stood for, what kept me engaged and motivated to give-up my life for this cause was Jason. For me, seeing someone sacrifice his life in support of a distant and, what appeared to be, an unreachable goal, was inspiring. And despite being told by almost everyone around us that we were fighting for a lost cause; that what we were doing is a waste of time, Jason's humbleness, focus, and steadfast direction gave me motivation to keep pushing on. I cannot thank him enough for the courage and inspiration he has given me throughout all these years. Although I have looked to him for these last few years as my boss (whether officially or unofficially), he is much more of a role model and a friend. I am truly honored to have met him in my life.

Throughout the first campaign in 2007-2008, I was fortunate enough to have met many more amazing individuals. I canvassed and phonebanked in the cold of Iowa and New Hampshire with Matt Verghese, Chris Wilhelm, Rob Yochem, Bill Romani, and Hans Riemer. I worked to organize students on college campuses with Alex Rischard, Sterling Grimes, Nina Anziska, Irina Zamyatin, Brittany McGrath, and Alexis Aduba.

Then we won the White House. From that moment on, I had the privilege to meet and work with more amazing people like Laila El Gohary (whose obsession with cats is borderline crazy, but always entertaining), Zeppa Kreager (who is one the best student organizers I have ever worked with and whose love for my lame jokes keeps me going), Scott Travers (who helped me organize college campuses across the state), Simone Lavine (who has been a great friend and has promised to give me one of her pet dogs), Victoria Zhao (who has a very bright future ahead of her), Jerusalem Demsas (who literally helped run my life these last few weeks), Jon Heintz (one of the hardest working people I have ever seen), Lilla Weinberger (who is one of the sweetest, most organized, and most loving people I have met on this campaign), and Becca Newman (whose support these last few weeks have been more meaningful to me than I can even put into words…and who I know is crying right at this moment).

To all my summer fellows; all my fellow staffers; anyone who’s ever “liked” my million annoying Facebook statuses; anyone whose read my blog posts; and anyone whose had to put up with my emotionally charged rants about how much I love President Obama…all that there is left to say is THANK YOU.

I want to thank all my brothers in the Crew for providing me with the support I needed to help get me through all these years.

I want to thank the awesome members of the A-Team (Chuck, Alli, Amanda, and Andrew), who had to put up with my loud-mouth for 15+ hours a day.

I want to thank my sister (Anu Jain), who has made me one of the proudest and happiest elder brothers anyone could ever wish to be. Her resilience, humor, smarts, and creativity has been inspiring.

But most importantly, I want to thank my wonderful parents (Indu and Palav Jain) for allowing me to pursue my passion and dream. Without their full support for the work I have been doing on this campaign, I would not be where I am today. Period.   

My experience on this campaign has been one of the most humbling, most inspiring, most gratifying and most rewarding feelings of my life. And I thank every single person who’s helped along this fantastic journey.

Now, all we can do is move FORWARD!   

Monday, November 5, 2012

VOTE

The reason I support the President is because of all the progress we've made. When he came into office, he literally inherited the WORST economy since the 1950s. We were losing over 750,000 jobs a month. The unemployment reached 10.2%, the financial system was in shackles, and the American auto-industry was literally going bankrupt.

Since taking office, however, we now have:

1 - A stronger financial system (making sure that American taxpayers never have to bailout another bank again, and making sure that banks have enough money in reserves to cover any losses investors will incur. This also strengthens capitalism because it makes sure that no one cheats the systems and plays by a different set of rules).

2 - A stronger economy (we've had 3 years of consecutive private sector job growth, added 5.2 million jobs to people who did not have it 4 years ago, and dropped the unemployment rate to under 8%).

3 - A stronger national security (ending the Iraq War and using those savings to rebuild our domestic economy; refocusing on Afghanistan; reducing the worldwide nuclear arsenal after passing the START Treaty with Russia; isolating Iran to levels never seen before; killing Osama bin Laden; and improving the world image of the U.S.)

4 - A stronger student loan system (making it cheaper for students to pay for their college by removing the middle-men in the loan system). Obviously granting higher access for education provides greater wealth and prosperity for our nation.

5 - A stronger American Auto-Industry (saving 1 million American jobs; making sure to step in and bailout this industry when there were no private lenders willing to assist. More importantly, however, we didn’t just loan this industry bailout money. We made sure they repaid their loan AND improved their fuel standards which saves people thousands of dollars at the pump every year).

6 - A stronger healthcare system (prohibiting insurance companies from having a monopoly on a person’s health; strengthening Medicare for our seniors; making sure that at least 80% of all insurance premiums you pay go to actual treatment and not just administrative costs; saving the average American family $1000 in medical costs; ensuring that people don’t get their coverage dropped for a preexisting condition; and allowing young people under 26 to stay on their parents’ plans).

7 - Home foreclosure rates are at their lowest in 4 years (and we’ve made it easier to refinance).

8 - Consumer confidence is at its highest in years (which is a leading factor for businesses hiring and selling their goods on the marketplace).

9 - Taxes are the lowest in years (18 business tax cuts; the payroll tax cuts saves the middle-class family $1000 a year)

But it all comes down to ideology: Romney believes that government has no role. Obama believes that government should help when needed.

Profit is the bottom line. You need to cut costs and increase revenue. But to do so, you need to make the right investments. Just as a business can’t just layoff all its employees and sell all its cash-generating assets—even if it meant greater short-term profits—we cannot allow gutting programs that help the American working class and create jobs.

For those who argue that we need less government involvement, it was the Bush administration’s lack of government regulation and oversight that caused us the economic crisis we are currently in. And those are the same policies Romney is advocating for.

When companies stop hiring or are deregulated to a point that unfairness occurs, we need the government to enact policies that allow the free market to occur. This, in turn, actually strengthens capitalism by providing predictability, stability, and fair competition to the market (which is why we illegalize monopolies) and prevents fraud that hurts companies who play by the rules. Yes, as conservatives say, we need to emphasize personal responsibility. But when you have a system that favors the rich through corporate tax loopholes and “too big to fail” companies that hold the economy hostage, government is needed.

So before going out and voting TODAY, please take some time to look at the facts. This is an election of a generation and will be decided on by just a handful of voters. Make your voice heard!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Forty-Seven Percent

My parents, both immigrants from India, started their lives in America as part of the “47%”. 

In other words, despite working hard to provide for their family, they were only barely able to make ends meet. They were not “victims” of big government, and they did not fail to “take responsibility” for their lives. They were members of the working poor, where they paid their payroll taxes but didn’t earn enough to pay federal income taxes.

My mother came to America when she was 18. She worked a full-time job at a nursing home for minimum wage ($3.25 an hour) while enrolled full-time at a community college. To help pay for her education, she also took student loans. After graduating, she got married to my dad and found work at a computer company for meager salary of $20,000 a year. While I was born and my father struggled to find work, my mother became the head breadwinner of our family. After seven years of working hard, however, the company laid her off because of downsizing. She then had to survive off unemployment benefits for 6 months as she had her second child, my younger sister.

My father came to America 6 years after my mom. Coming from a small village in India, he had nothing in his pockets except the hope to make it big in a generous nation. After struggling to find work, he finally decided to start his own small business selling small gift items in local outdoor flea markets.

Today, my parents are successful small business owners. And they understand that when demand for their products is decreasing, you must make the right investments (even if it means greater deficits in the short-term) in order to achieve strong growth and prosperity in the future.

As the case with President Obama, my parents’ story is part of the larger American story. Both my parents took personal responsibility for their own lives. Yet despite how hard they worked, they were just barely able to make ends meet. So when they looked to big government for help, they didn’t consider themselves “victims”. They looked toward the only other person that would assist them in their time of need when there was no one else: Uncle Sam.  They didn’t expect government to solve all their problems, but they did deserve some relief.

My parents understand the difficulties the “47%” face. They understand that in addition to their hard work and perseverance, they could never have achieved success without the help of others. What they cannot understand, however, is why Governor Romney criticizes President Obama for providing that same relief to so many Americans in a time of need, as if it were wrong to help these hard working people.

President Obama inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression. Yet despite relentless opposition from the other side, he’s put his political career on the line to find compromise and provide stability to a fragile nation. He has fought for families like mine to ensure that we grow our middle-class and help everyone achieve the American Dream.

For those unemployed, Obama extended unemployment benefits. For those underemployed, he’s lowered costs for healthcare, credit cards, student loans, and home mortgages. For those employed, he’s lowered taxes and made our financial system stronger to strengthen people’s job security. For those who hire American workers, he’s lowered small business taxes 18 times.

President Obama has also worked to reduce our deficit by making the right investments, ending a costly war in Iraq, enforcing new financial regulations, and asking everyone to pay their fair share.

If elected president, Mitt Romney has promised he will replace Obamacare (essentially keeping everything but the thing that pays for it); repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reforms (which ensures that banks have enough capital on hand to cover investor’s losses); and keep the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest 2% (because it worked so well in the past?), all somehow while balancing the budget without increasing spending (despite Obama’s willingness to cut $10 in spending for every $1 in revenue).

This is why this election is so important. Because as the President has said, “This isn't just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make or break moment for the middle class, and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.”

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Leader We Deserve


The conventions are over, and the debates are approaching. But as voters decide which campaign message to approve, it is important to take a look back at President Clinton’s speech from the DNC, where he made the point that, “Since the 1960s…our economy produced 66 million private-sector jobs. So what’s the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million.”

Clearly Democrats, although in power for a shorter time, created better conditions for job growth than Republican administrations. But why is that?

It’s because Democrats understand that no one in this country is completely self-reliant. Although my parents started their own business and “built that”, they understand that in addition to their hard work, they also needed a society that invested in great teachers and rewarded those who play by the rules.

Democrats understand that when 98% of Americans are suffering, the top 2% also suffer. Although my parents have been very fortunate, they understand that when the middle class has less disposable income, their business suffers as well.

Democrats understand that investments in education, infrastructure, and healthcare are good for everyone. Take healthcare as an example. Put aside the morality argument. Forget about the fact that for years, insurance companies placed life-time caps, dropped coverage, and overcharged patients in return for very little care. Purely economic, if a large chunk of your paycheck goes to paying medical bills, you’ll have less money to buy goods/services. Not to mention that insurance companies were neglecting 30 million new customers that they now have thanks to Obamacare.

Democrats understand that government can help when no one else is willing to. It took a strong national government to get us out of the Great Depression in the ‘40s. It took a strong national government to pass the Civil Rights Act in the ‘60s. And it took a strong national government to bailout Wall Street and save the Auto-industry to ensure that capital continues to flow and that we don’t slip into another Great Depression.

No one is arguing that our economy is fully out of recovery. The recent jobs report last Friday proved that. But facts are facts, and we should not forget that it was President Bush’s policies that got us into this mess in the first place, and those are the same policies that Governor Romney is advocating for.

Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, our financial system is stronger today than it was 4 years ago. Because of his Wall-Street Reform, taxpayers will never again have to bailout “too-big-to-fail” banks whose failures to cover their losses jeopardized our economy.

Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, our economy is stronger today than it was 4 years ago. We are no longer losing over 700,000 jobs a month, the American Auto-Industry is no longer failing, and unemployment is no longer above 10%.

Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, our national security and foreign policy are stronger today than they were 4 years ago. Every President in recent history has worked for nuclear control. But it was Obama who actually worked with Russia to sign the new START Treaty (whereas Romney argues that our biggest threat today IS Russia). It was Obama who repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, proving to our soldiers that “love of country, not love of another, determines loyalty”. It was Obama who successfully worked with our allies to take down Gaddafi without any U.S. casualties (whereas Romney says we needed to act unilaterally without any regard to our allies). It was Obama who, even contrary to the advice of some in his own team, gave the order to take down Bin Laden (whereas Romney once said “It's not worth moving heaven and Earth and spending billions of dollars just to catch one person”). And it was Obama who ended the war in Iraq, as promised, and created a plan to end the war in Afghanistan (I’m not sure what Romney thinks since he’s been consistently flip flopping on this issue).

And thanks to President Obama, our nation’s healthcare system is stronger today than it was 4 years ago. First, it is NOT a government-run program (and for those that argue it is, I would examine President Regan’s EMTALA that mandated hospitals to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay). It is NOT a tax (just listen to Romney describe how the Individual Mandate is simply a penalty for those who don’t take personal responsibility to get insurance). And it does NOT increase costs, run up the deficit, or bankrupt Medicare (the non-partisan CBO estimates it saves taxpayers about $1000 a year, reduces our deficit by $200 billion, and saves Medicare recipients $6500 per year).

Time and time again President Obama has tried to work with the Republicans, even so much so that sometimes his own base was frustrated. But on every measure, even those which they have supported in the past, the Republican leadership has shown obstruction and bitter partisanship.

When Obama argued for a Stimulus, which Republicans have traditionally agreed to, they all voted against it. When Obama argued for the Individual Mandate in Healthcare, which was a Republican idea in the first place, they all voted against it. When Obama tried to reduce our deficit, Republicans signed a tax pledge and refused to compromise no matter how much Obama was willing to reduce spending.

So yes, I support President Obama, more now than in 2008. I support him because he truly puts partisan politics aside to work for the American people.

He is the kind of leader America deserves.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Truth About Medicare

Medicare was designed as a guarantee that citizens over 65 will have adequate medical care regardless of how healthy or wealthy they are.  The Romney/Ryan plan would change this.

Romney and Ryan both call for turning Medicare into a voucher system. Seniors would be given a certain amount of money each year to buy health insurance on their own. If that amount isn’t enough to pay for the kind of coverage you need, you pay the difference out of pocket. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, this will force seniors to pay an average of $6,500 a year more for their insurance.

Because of the system in place today, Medicare's size allows the government to negotiate its rates. However, if it loses many of its healthier enrollees to private insurers (because they feel they can do without insurance), Medicare will likely lose bargaining power with its providers, making it harder and costlier for seniors who need healthcare.

Unlike the Romney-Ryan plan, President Obama’s plan actually achieves billions in savings without cutting payments to Medicare beneficiaries.

Prior to the new healthcare law –under the Medicare Part D program—seniors initially paid 25 percent of their medication costs while Medicare paid the rest. However, once they reached a certain spending limit (the coverage gap commonly known as the “donut hole”), beneficiaries were required to pay the full costs of their prescription drugs out of pocket.

What Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ie. Obamacare) does is make the program more affordable by gradually closing the donut hole and reducing wasteful spending by private insurers. This will lower premiums, increase savings, and extend the life of Medicare ( click here for more details ).

The Romney-Ryan plan, by contrast, achieves its savings by turning Medicare into a voucher whose value doesn't keep up with expected increases in healthcare costs -- thereby shifting the burden onto Medicare beneficiaries.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to turn Medicare over to the private market. And as was the case before Obamacare, where private insurers dropped coverage for patients who had preexisting conditions and were deemed “risky”, seniors would face the same fate.

The underlining message is who should bear the burden. Time and time again, whether it is with Romney’s plan to lower the tax rates for the top percent (which means that taxes on the middle-class will be higher); or with Romney’s plan to decrease the size of the federal government (even when states are barely able to keep teachers police officers on payroll), we have seen the Republican Party shift greater burdens to people with less bargaining power.

But what Republicans need to understand is that we’re all interdependent on one another in all walks of life.

That is the choice in this election. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Need for Growth


"I came in and the jobs had been just falling off a cliff. I came in and they kept falling for 11 months and then we turned around and we're coming back. And that's progress. And if you're going to suggest to me that somehow the day I got elected, somehow jobs should immediately turn around, why that would be silly. It takes a while to get things turned around.”
-Governor Mitt Romney (Press Conference, 6/24/2006)

Although our economy has created 4.5 million new jobs since President Obama took office; although we have prevented another Great Depression; and although Democrats have been continuously fighting to create more jobs, we need to continue promoting policies that have been proven to work, and discontinue those that have failed.

Many of these failed policies stem from the notion that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Since our nation’s founding, we have depended upon a strong national government to open up opportunity, ensure equality, encourage competition, and keep our democracy strong. Thus, the only way to continue improving the state of our union is to understand that government is not the cause of our problems, but rather the solution to them.

The government shouldn’t decide who gets married. But in the same way that government needed to step in when certain states enacted the racist Jim Crowe laws that restricted certain freedoms to a minority group, we need a government that can stand up for all those who are discriminated against.

The government shouldn’t tell a business owner how to run his/her business. But if the actions of a company impedes on the free market opportunities of other businesses, as is the case with monopolies or companies that are “too big to fail”, then we need government to enact certain regulations that strengthen the principles of capitalism.

The government shouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to bailout certain industries. But when there are no private lenders willing to invest in an industry that creates millions of domestic jobs and is essential to the economic prosperity of a nation, we need government to step in and save jobs.

The government shouldn’t dictate how private health insurers treat their customers. But when insurance companies mislead patients and misuse premium dollars, we need government to “promote the General Welfare” of its citizens and strengthen the privately-run healthcare industry to provide access and affordable care to all.

And the government shouldn’t enact policies that raise taxes on the wealthiest. But when this class of citizens pays a significantly lower effective tax rate than the rest of society, or when their lower rates come at the expense of middle-class families, we need government to ensure that “everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules,” (Obama).

Clearly we are on the right track and we’re making progress. But in order to ensure that we continue to move this country forward, we need another term for President Obama and the continued leadership of the Democrats.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Taxes and Taxes Oh My!


President Obama is once again asking Congress to have the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. Specifically, he is proposing that all Americans receive a continuation of the Bush tax cuts (at 35%) on the first 250k of their incomes, and pay the Clinton-era rates (39%) for any income earned above that level.

At first glance, it would appear that this economically-sound proposal would receive immediate approval from the “deficit-hawks” and the “fiscally responsible”. But then again no change worth making comes easy.

Republicans claim that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on any income earned over 250K would hurt small businesses, hurt the job creators, hurt our growing economy, and hurt all working-class Americans. But despite the partisan rhetoric seen on Fox News, the facts are indisputable.

First, a recentTreasury analysis found that only the top 2 percent of all households, and only the top 2.5 percent of small-business owners, would face higher taxes from our president’s call to expire the tax cuts on the wealthiest. But for these individuals, I assume paying anything more than the 15 percent rate that their capital gains/dividend yields are currently taxed at is asking for too much.  

It is also important to understand that the main reason businesses are not creating more jobs is because of the decreased demand for their goods and services. Put simply, if people don’t have money to spend, the economy cannot grow. Therefore, we need to ensure that the middle-class (ie. the REAL job creators) are provided the same opportunities the wealthiest have, including affordable healthcare, lower taxes, and access to higher education.

Second, the notion that Obama’s policies have bankrupted our nation is blatantly false. It was due to the leadership of the last Democratic president that the economy generated 22 million net new jobs, and income levels for all Americans grew at historic levels. On the other hand, it was the policies of the last Republican administration that took a $200 billion surplus and drained it to a $1 trillion deficit. Ironically, these same failed policies are being proposed by the “pro-business” “job-creating” Republican nominee for president.

It is because of President Obama and his so called “socialist” policies that we are not in another Great Depression: unemployment is lower than three years ago; home foreclosure rates are lower than three years ago; we are safer than we were three years ago; more people have healthcare than three years ago; the American auto-industry is stronger now than it was three years ago; and there have been more jobs now than there were three years ago.

Third, no one in the Democratic Party resents wealth. What we resent is the distribution of wealth to the very rich; when profits are privatized while losses are socialized; when the few wealthy individuals get tax credits on the backs of millions of working class Americans; where the very rich have continued to prosper while the 98% of the population have not.

And why not simply extend all the Bush tax cuts? Because we can’t afford to. Therefore, the loss in revenue from continuing the tax cuts on the top 2 percent needs to be balanced with equal cuts in something else. Unfortunately, these cuts are usually taken from programs that are specifically designed to benefit a middle-class family living paycheck to paycheck.

Given this choice, we need a president who understands that “our prosperity has always come from an economy that's built on a strong and growing middle class…so that's why I believe it's time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, folks like myself, to expire,” (Obama). 

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Like Obama'care'

http://www.carlsontoons.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/partsC.jpg

And so should you!

When our president passed the Affordable Care Act, Republicans claimed it was not the correct solution to the healthcare problem. Republican leaders also want you to believe that if they were in control, they would offer a solution. But they have had control of the House since 2010 and have not yet offered anything to the American people. Instead of proposing any substantive alternatives of their own, they have focused solely on repealing “Obamacare”. But how is this a policy?

Even when they had a unified government during the last Bush administration – with control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency – they were still unable to come up with any real solution (instead they decided to focus on depleting our nation’s surplus by forging two wars and passing tax-cuts for the wealthiest Americans). The only time they offered something substantive to the healthcare debate was in the 1990s, when they proposed the individual mandate.

So, as a truly bipartisan leader, Obama decided to put the Republican’s sole contribution to the healthcare debate into his healthcare law in 2009, when the Democrats had a unified government. In other words, when Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, Obama still chose to reach across the political isle (something that angered some in his own base) in the spirit of compromise. He didn’t have to. But Obama wanted to elevate politics to a level he promised in his 2008 campaign, and he did so in the most moderate and transparent way possible.

But instead of appreciating the president’s efforts, the Republican leadership chose obstruction. They have not only used the Senate filibuster more than twice as much as ever in the history of the Senate, but they have said numerous times that their sole priority is to defeat Obama. They have been unwilling to come up with any real solutions of their own, with the exception of saying “No” to everything our president has proposed.

Even now, after the Supreme Court upheld the only solution to fixing our nation’s broken healthcare system, the Republicans’ only alternative solution: repeal Obamacare.

They continue to spend every day of President Obama’s administration to try and distort the facts. They claim that Obamacare would raise taxes, increase the size of government, increase our deficit, put granny on a death panel, hurt business owners, hurt doctors, and hurt insurance companies. But it is critical for the health and safety of our nation that we sort through fact from fiction. Here are just a few facts. If you don’t believe me, let me know WHY:

The Individual Mandate is NOT a tax. It is only a penalty for those who do not take the personal responsibility of buying health insurance. The idea, proposed by Republicans, ensures that no one gets a free handout and that the rest of us taxpayers need not bailout or pay for someone else’s healthcare. In fact, because of Obamacare, nearly 13 million Americans will receive a rebate check that comes from a provision of the law that punishes insurers who spend too much of policyholders' premiums for boosting company profits instead of paying for their medical care.

Obamacare does NOT run up our country’s deficits. According the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare reduces deficits by $210 billion.

Obamacare is NOT a government-run program. All it does is stay true to capitalistic principles of the free market and prohibit insurance companies from maintaining monopolies on your insurance policy. The reason that we needed the federal government to get involved in the first place is because before Obamacare, most states had no solutions of their own (with the exception of Romneycare). There were millions without coverage, and millions more who were forced into bankruptcy when they got sick and couldn’t afford healthcare

Obamacare IS about the economy and jobs. If a large chunk of your paycheck goes to paying for rising healthcare premiums that you cannot afford, you don’t have much money left over to help businesses grow. Furthermore, if you are sick and are forced into bankruptcy, you are no longer self-sufficient. Instead, you are forced to rely on free handouts. In doing so, you cost the average taxpayer $1000 in increased premiums due to your visits to the ER. In doing so, you become a drag to the economy.

Obamacare IS a moral issue. In our nation’s history, we have always benefited from expanding rights to a group of people who have otherwise been denied those privileges. Think about the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Although it may have been seen as a distraction from “jobs, jobs, jobs”, we knew that it was the right course of action for our country. In the same way, I don’t see how it is okay for people to go bankrupt if they cannot afford healthcare. I don’t understand how it is okay to deny people coverage for a pre-existing condition. Morally, it is not right.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I support Romney

After nearly 4 years of President Obama, it is clear that we need to change the direction of our nation. We need to return to a time when we promoted the “general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”, and when we believed that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

A President Romney will do just this and restore America to greatness. Here’s how:

1.      If elected, Romney will finally repeal the socialist law known as Obamacare, which unjustly leaves the American health-insurance industry in the hands of private insurers and bankrupts our nation by prohibiting these companies the right to deny people coverage due to preexisting conditions. The law hurts doctors by giving them greater dependence from insurance companies; it hurts small business owners by giving them tax subsidies to fund their employee insurance plans; and it hurts the working family by requiring that at least 80% of their premium dollars pay for actual healthcare rather than executive bonuses or other administrative costs.

2.      If elected, Romney will use his experience in the private sector to create jobs by ending the anti-business policies of the Obama administration that used taxpayer money to bailout the U.S. auto-industry when no private lenders were willing to invest. He will also undo Wall-Street Reform (Dodd-Frank), which hurts the free market by requiring big banks to have more cash on hand to cover losses, invest their federally backed dollars responsibly, and take away big bonuses from failed CEOs.

3.      If elected, Romney will end the class warfare created by the Obama administration by continuing to have billionaires like Warren Buffett pay a lower tax rate than his secretary. He will continue the successful trickle-down policies of the Bush administration by keeping corporate loopholes open and ensuring that the job-creators get tax breaks before the job-holders do.

4.      If elected, Romney would support the fundamentals of our democracy by banning devoted and monogamous gay couples from getting married, and telling gay soldiers that they are unpatriotic because of whom they chose to love.   

5.      If elected, Romney will finally cut back on big government, preventing another disastrous stimulus package that hired more firemen, more policemen, and more teachers at a time when private companies stopped hiring.

Mitt Romney is clearly the right choice for President of the United States. After all, who else can help move America forward?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The BAIN Initiative


As the 2012 Presidential election heats up, voters are faced with a critical decision: pick a man who has had great success in the private sector, or pick a man who has had great success in the public sector.

It is first important to note there is a stark difference between the private sector and the public sector. Success in one does not necessarily translate to success in the other. Mr. Romney thinks otherwise.

There is no question about Mr. Romney’s enormous success in the private sector. As head of Bain Capital, his work with the private equity firm has created massive payoffs for his investors and has rightfully earned him respect as a triumphant businessman. However, creating wealth and creating jobs are two very different things.

When Mr. Romney touts his private sector experience as “the main calling card for why he thinks he should be president,” his time at Bain Capital must be examined at a further depth.

What must also be examined is his experience in the public sector, primarily as Governor of Massachusetts. Specifically, during his tenure as Governor, Massachusetts dropped to 47th in job creation. He also advocated that we “let Detroit go bankrupt”, criticizing Obama for his Auto-Bailout. But we can all agree that if we took Mr. Romney’s “business” advice, our recovery would be in a much worse position that it is today. Instead of having two and half years of consecutive private sector job growth, our economy would have lost millions of jobs.

No one, including the President, is criticizing Romney’s success at Bain Capital, the private sector, or private equity firms. In fact, President Obama has supported the principles of capitalism to a much greater extent than his opponent (via Wall Street Reform and the Buffet Rule, which promote equality of opportunity, NOT equality of outcomes).

But when Mr. Romney claims that his business experience is the sole reason why he would do a better job as President than Obama, the American people have a right to ask questions. As President Obama mentioned in his press briefing earlier this week:

"When you're president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. Your job is to think about those workers who get laid off, and how are we paying them for their retraining? Your job is to think about how those communities can start creating new clusters so that they can attract new businesses. Your job as president is to think about how do we set up an equitable tax system so that everybody's paying their fair share that allows us then to invest in science and technology and infrastructure, all of which are going to help us grow.”

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Make-A-Wish Foundation



How’s everyone doing?

I first want to thank you all for having me, and for all your help in making the Make-A-Wish Foundation better.

Now, some of you may know me from this year’s Relay for Life event on campus. For others, I probably remind you of a young George Clooney, or that guy from One Direction (you know, all of them). But for everyone else, my name is Ashwani Jain, and I am a 9 year cancer survivor.

When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Because they found my tumor at its early stages, I only had to undergo 4 months of extensive chemotherapy. I say only 4 months because every other child that I met while getting treated at the Children’s Hospital in DC had far worse situations than I did. Many of them were not only younger than I was, but they had to undergo more surgeries and harsher treatments for longer periods of time.

And although their physical conditions made them very weak, their spirits were undoubtedly strong. It was from their courage and exceptionally optimistic outlook on life that I became inspired to give back.

I learned from them that no matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse. At the same time, it is often within your power to make them better, and find the opportunity in every difficulty.

So, I stayed true to the UPS slogan, “what can brown do for you” and I got to work. After I finished my treatment, I began performing charity magic shows for the Children’s Hospital, the Children’s INN at the NIH, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I took to heart what Mark Twain once said, and learned firsthand that “the best way to cheer yourself up is to try and cheer someone else up.”

Today, I am now a volunteer Wish Ambassador and Wish Grantor for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation certainly has a very special place in my heart. One year after my treatments were over, the Foundation gave me a trip of a lifetime. It was early morning, and the foundation sent a limo to pick my family and me up. It was the first time I ever rode one. In fact, I didn’t really understand what to do, so I actually rode in the passenger’s seat in front. For those of you who don’t know, that’s not how you’re supposed to ride a limo.

We then boarded a train to New York City, where we were greeted by a Wish staff member, who gave us a tour of the city and tickets to the Broadway show: Julius Caesar.

After the show, they took us back stage, where we met the cast and crew. Then something happened that made my heart drop. I got a tap on my shoulder and when I turned around, it was none other than the man I had wished to meet: Denzel Washington. Needless to say I was awe-struck. He took us to his dressing room, where he spoke with us for about 15 minutes. And for those 15 minutes, nothing else mattered. Cancer was just another word in the dictionary.

My parents weren’t thinking about the fact that they had almost lost their son; my sister wasn’t thinking about all the pain she saw her older brother go through; and I wasn’t worried about all the scars my surgeries left behind. All I was able to focus on was that very moment, and how my dream was coming true.
This is largely attributed to the work done by organizations such as Maryland Wishes. And it is because of the tremendous work and dedication of people like you, by simply showing up to events like this that make this foundation such a huge success, and keeps me motivated to stay active.

Whether you’re another cancer survivor, had a relative with cancer, or know someone with cancer, we are all affected by this horrible disease. Now, imagine if we can provide the amount of joy that I had to all children suffering from these types of life-threatening medical conditions. If we can do that, then there is nothing that these kids cannot overcome.

Winston Churchill once said that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Today, you have all given me and children who are currently facing these uphill battles hope and inspiration.
So, from the bottom of my heart, I’m truly appreciative for your support, for being here today, and for helping wishes come true.

Thanks everyone!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Relay for Life 2012



After speaking here at Relay for the last few years, I always get people who ask me why I do it. They say, “Ashwani, aren’t you tired of hearing your own voice?” And I always give them the same response: “Of course, I am, but with a voice like an angle people just want to hear me speak.”

But on a serious note, the reason I continue to stay active and make my voice heard is because of something my parents taught me a long time ago.“If it doesn’t kill you, don’t act like it does.”

We’ve all been through an experience that has changed our lives. Everyone here, whether you experienced it directly, or know someone who did, has some moment that changes the way you perceive the world.

For some, it could be an event, like when you got accepted into college, or the time you arrived at a new place. For others, it could be getting your first job, going on your first date, finishing an entire burrito at Chipotle, or meeting your best friend. It could also be the moment you realized that you actually have no friends (you know who you are). It may be even be the day you heard a motivational speaker at a Relay for Life event; whose good looks, witty jokes, and captivating charm made you want to empty out your wallets and tip him for a job well done…..(thought I’d give it a try).

But for me, what changed my life was an experience I had as a child.

"For a long time it gave me nightmares, witnessing an injustice like that... It was a constant reminder of just how unfair this world can be... To this day, I can still hear them taunting him... "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!"... I mean, why couldn’t they just give him just cereal?!”

But for those of you who never watch the Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire – you know, the episode they go camping and they get lost in the woods, they’re in the cave for the night and Carlton is talking…ah, never mind. Anyway, for those of you who never watch the Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire, let me tell about another experience that changed my life.

I was 13 and in the middle of the 8th grade. Like most boys, I thought I was the invincible! I teased my younger sister, gave my parents a hard time, and ran around the house with my underwear on my head thinking I was superman. Who doesn’t? But that all changed when I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Cancer.

Now, for a 13 year old kid, cancer didn’t really have any meaning. Sure, I heard about it before, but it was something only old people got. I knew that cancer patients were bald, looked very sick, and were always in the hospital. I also knew that after some time, I never saw some those people ever again.

But, you see, what really rattled me during my diagnosis was seeing my parents cry for the first time. It was having my parents look at me like I was about to die. It was seeing all our friends and family come in and out of house, bringing baskets of gifts and boxes of tissues. It was not being able to attend my last year of middle school, or hang out with any of my friends. It was spending every day on X-ray machines and hospital beds. It was about seeing kids younger than me go through more pain and agony that I had to. It was having numerous, painful surgeries that seemed to have no end in sight. It was all the bandages and scars. It was that my life got turned completely upside down.

That’s what cancer was for me. And today, I can’t go more than a few seconds after just hearing the word cancer without getting a little emotional. I start to remember all the things that I went through and that I saw other patients go through. I start to remember the pain.

So why then, am I here today, and every year, speaking out and sharing my experience?

It’s because I learned that if it doesn’t kill you, don’t act like it does.

But I think Kanye West said it best, quote “n-n-now th-that that that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger.” And that guy always knows what he’s talking about.

In the same way, I believe that my experiences have made ME stronger, and have allowed me to share my story with others. So if my experiences can help those who are going through the same thing right now to realize that they are not alone; or if it helps people understand the difficulties that cancer patients and their families undergo; or if I can somehow inspire just one person to help end this disease, then I feel it is my responsibility to speak out.

And that’s what events like Relay for Life are all about. It’s about helping us understand that if we fight together, we can survive together.

Because life is truly precious, and every day is a gift. And even if we face a challenge, we can still be optimistic. Because as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “its only in the darkness that you begin to see the stars.”

Well I’ve been looking, and I’ve been seeing shooting stars everywhere.

Thanks so much!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hands off my health care!

President Obama’s Affordable Care Act ensures that government does just that—lay its hands off your medical care. Here’s how:

The Affordable Care Act (i.e. “Obamacare”) helps doctors avoid having insurance companies dictate how they should treat their patients (via high overhead costs, billing limitations, and bureaucracy) ; it helps the insurance companies by adding millions to their payroll; it helps the economy by reducing the deficit; and it helps the average taxpayer by reducing their taxes.

But most importantly, the law is designed to help patients. Healthcare is supposed to be about the sick. It’s not about the doctors, the nurses, the insurance companies, the interest groups, or the politicians. It is ultimately about providing the necessary medical assistance to those who need it and are suffering.

The problem, however, is that the United States is the only industrial nation in the world that does not provide equal access to healthcare to its citizens. Despite this, the American people still pay more for their limited healthcare than their counterparts in other countries.

The Affordable Care Act, therefore, provides a fix to this problem by cutting costs and expanding coverage. But these goals are harder to achieve without an individual mandate, the issue now facing our Supreme Court.

Everyone needs healthcare. But without an individual mandate, costs will increase for all of us when those who decided to “free-ride”, and not buy health insurance, face an unexpected illness which forces them to get more expensive care from the hospital ERs. When this occurs, and these people can’t afford that care, their treatment costs are absorbed by hospitals. The hospitals, in turn, raise the cost of their services on the insured. Furthermore, insurance companies raise their premiums on policyholders.

Prior to Obamacare, this has been the situation, and has cost the average taxpayer an additional $1000 per year in taxes. Thus, those of us who have played by the rules have been forced to give free emergency care to those uninsured. This, in essence, has been the true “individual mandate.”

In the 1990s, Republicans proposed the individual mandate as a counter-part to President Bill Clinton’s universal health-care bill. It was their idea in the first place. But now that Obama has put his stamp on it, they must oppose it. But if the individual mandate is overturned by the Supreme Court, it will only increase the need for a single-payer system.

Under Obama’s law, healthcare is NOT a government-run program. There is no single-payer system, and private-insurance companies still run the market. What Obamacare did was stay true to the capitalistic principals of the free market and break-up the monopolies that health insurance companies held. Specifically, he made sure that these companies would not deny coverage based on preexisting conditions, gave people the flexibility of changing their insurance companies, and provided the uninsured with affordable care.

If opponents of Obamacare successfully repeal the law, the nation’s uninsured would rise again. And with an individual mandate that is now “unconstitutional”, we must follow the lead of nations such as Great Britain, France, Germany, and Canada that provide universal healthcare for their citizens.

So we can either start trying to fix the many other problems our nation is facing, or we can continue to debate about whether or not a cancer patient should receive affordable healthcare. Either way, the government will need to play a role in how our healthcare system works. The question, then, is how large of a role they play.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A True Fiscal Conservative

I often hear people say, “I am socially a Democrat but I’m fiscally a Republican.” To me, however, this sounds highly contradictory.

To be a Democrat is to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative. After all, government’s job is not to control people’s lives, but help people control their own lives. In all my blog posts, I have tried give meaning to this concept. But now it is time to take a look at the six main pillars of the “fiscally conservative” handbook to reverse the notion that “government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem”.

1. JOBS

When companies like GM and Chrysler were on the verge of bankruptcy, there were no private companies or investors willing to assist these companies. It was only then that the need of government intervention arose. By saving the American auto-industry, the President saved millions of American jobs and created an environment where we can continue to compete globally.

2. FREE MARKET

Let us not forget that businesses -- not government agencies-- are the true engine of job creation. But when they stop hiring or are deregulated to a point that unfairness occurs, we need the government to enact policies that allow the free market to occur. This, in turn, actually strengthens capitalism by providing predictability, stability, and fair competition to the market (which is why we illegalize monopolies) and prevents fraud that hurts companies who play by the rules.

As the President mentioned in his State of the Union, “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

This is why the President passed Wall Street reform to end "too big to fail" bailouts and keep government out of the private-sector. This will also protect consumers, reward managers who play by the rules, and prevent another financial crisis.

3. SMALLER FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The Emergency Jobs bill provided billions of dollars in needed assistance to help states avoid a budget crunch that would force them to lay off teachers, firefighters, police and other public workers. Thus, it helps strengthen states to make decisions on their own.

The Affordable Care Act also left power to the states by reforming the private health-insurance market to avoid a government-run program and helping these states pay Medicaid payments to doctors. Further, by adding 30million new patients for doctors and customers for insurance companies, costs for states are reduced.

4. INDIVUAL LIBERTY

Keeping the Federal government out of marriage and abortion protects an individual’s freedom to marry who they love and a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body.

5. TAX CUTS

President Obama has passed the largest tax cuts in history with his first stimulus package. The previous record was held by President Bush’s “Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003” which amounted to about $230 billion in tax cuts. President Obama’s “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”, on the other hand, amounted to about $280 billion in tax cuts. The difference was that the Bush tax cuts were targeted at the wealthiest Americans, whereas the Obama tax cuts were targeted at the middle-class and small businesses.

As President Obama explained in his State of the Union, “Democrats don't begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it's not because they envy the rich. It's because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don't need and the country can't afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference - like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet.”

Given this choice, President Obama also helped lower taxes for millions of Americans by making healthcare cheaper and more affordable, helping students pay off their college loans, reforming the credit card industry, providing tax incentives to small businesses, extending the payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits, raising the debt ceiling, and ending the Iraq War.

All these not only cut costs, but also help save billions of dollars while putting more money into people’s pockets. This, in turn, allows them the flexibility to divert their attention from finding access to basic necessities to finding a job.

6. BUSINESSES

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only a small percentage of employers have reported regulation as a reason for laying off workers. Instead, the data shows that the main issues were tied to insufficient demand. Specifically, if no one can afford to buy what a business has to sell, the business will soon fail and jobs will be lost. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is more of a “job creator” than the average CEO.

This is where we need government. Not to “socialize” every aspect of our society, but simply to help increase consumer demand and provide added assistance to the private sector. The best way to create demand, therefore, is by providing tax breaks for the middle-class. It is by keeping benefits, like Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits that millions of Americans are dependent on. It is by educating our citizens to ensure they are able to compete with the rest of the world.

But I still wonder how someone can be a Democrat without being fiscally conservative?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Government as a Business

When Republicans emphasize the need for a president who has “business world” experience, they are merely asking for a leader who understands the importance of the private sector in growing our economy. In this regard, there is no better “business person” than President Obama.

As the Assistant Manager of a small business myself, I have learned that all businesses are virtually the same. Regardless of the product, every business needs to take care of their employees and provide superior customer service. In a recent interview with Fortune magazine, Google co-founder Larry Page highlighted the importance of a company to “be a family… When you treat people that way, you get better productivity. Rather than really caring what hours you worked, you care about output. We should continue to innovate in our relationship with our employees and figure out the best things we can do for them. You treat people with respect, they tend to return the favor to the company.” Ranked as one of the top best companies to work for, Google’s success speaks for itself.

In the same way, a government can be considered a business, with the American people as its employees. And just as Google’s management takes care of its employees to increase productivity, the federal government should take care of its citizens to foster widespread economic growth.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, A Cure for Cancer, this is not done by socializing every aspect of society. Let us not forget that businesses -- not government agencies-- are the true engine of job creation. But when they stop hiring or are deregulated to a point that unfairness occurs, we need the government to enact policies that allow the free market to occur. This, in turn, actually strengthens capitalism.

The government must continue to invest in the American people by educating them and keeping them healthy. In a strictly business sense, those who are uneducated and without healthcare are unprofitable and unproductive. While our foreign competitors are increasing their high school and college graduation rates, an uneducated American workforce cannot compete in the global marketplace. And although we are spending more than any other industrial nation in terms of healthcare, we are not earning a sufficient return on our investment because not every American has equal access to proper care. Furthermore, those who are forced to delay medical care because they are uninsured/underinsured cost taxpayers an additional $1000 per emergency room visit.

Also, just as the employees of Google have a shared sense of responsibility to the success of their company, the government can promote this sentiment by having all Americans pay their fair share in taxes. However, with the wealthiest paying a much smaller percent of their income in taxes than the rest of Americans, this sense of “family” is undermined.

So what needs to be done? As top CEO, President Obama has taken action.
-He has stimulated the economy to prevent another Great Depression;
-Invested in infrastructure to create immediate employment;
-Kept the American auto-industry afloat to ensure global competitiveness;
-Provided proper and fair conditions in the private market to grow businesses;
-Reformed the private health-insurance market to avoid a government-run program;
-Ended the costly Iraq War to invest in the American people;
-Eased the student loan process to educate our workforce;
-Asked the top 1% to pay the same tax rate as the rest of the 99%

As the President mentioned in his State of the Union, “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

Now let’s ask Congress to get to business!