Thanks to President Obama’s advertising campaign, almost everybody must have heard about “Julia” by now. Her story invites a comparison with “Jane,” born in 1946, long before Mr. Obama.
There was no Head Start when Jane was a toddler, but she was still ready for school - early - so her mommy and daddy worked hard to pay the tuition and sent her to kindergarten at the Immaculate Heart Academy.
Poor Julia apparently has no daddy, and there are very few Catholic sisters left to offer low-cost private kindergartens.
Jane’s education was enriched by books from the Carnegie Free Library. Andrew Carnegie was one of those “millionaires or billionaires.” These days, Mr. Obama keeps people from getting rich by siphoning off their money into programs to help Julia the government way while extracting a substantial share of the money for bureaucrats and enterprises owned by campaign donors.
When Jane was 17, there was no Race to the Top program or federal aid to education. Nevertheless, she took the SAT and a number of Advanced Placement examinations. Strangely, SAT scores were much higher then. Although fewer people went to college, hardworking high school graduates still could get a good job before federal taxes and regulations drove about 40,000 factories overseas.
Jane did not get a Pell Grant, but college education was very affordable. She could pay most of her in-state tuition with earnings from a part-time job in the chemistry laboratory, which paid $1.25 per hour. She lived at home. The commute was short, but in any event, gasoline was less than 30 cents a gallon, or about $1.91 in 2005 dollars.
Poor Julia will be in debt before she ever graduates from college.
Jane had an appendectomy at about age 14. There was no “health care reform” and no Medicare or Medicaid, either. Her hospital bill was $150, which was 10 days’ pay for a construction laborer.
Julia’s hospital bill probably was 10 or 20 times higher.
At age 22, Jane was a schoolteacher. There was no Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but Jane was not aware of any discrimination against female teachers. She earned enough to save some money for medical school. Her savings from three years of work, plus rent from a couple of houses her daddy built, enabled her to graduate debt-free. Her daddy was a bricklayer and carpenter who was able to open his own contracting business.
Even if poor Julia had a daddy, he almost certainly would not have been able to accomplish as much as Jane’s daddy did, because of an enormously increased burden of taxes and regulations at federal, state and local levels of government.
Poor Julia evidently is able to keep up with her loan payments only because Mr. Obama has capped interest at artificially low rates.
When Jane finally finished medical school and residency and got a real job, her employer was not required to cover preventive care. Nevertheless, she focused on her work and did not worry about her health. She picked the high-deductible health plan, which was quite inexpensive, and paid out of pocket when she went to the doctor.
Poor Julia’s health insurance undoubtedly is far more expensive, loaded down with mandates as it is, but she probably doesn’t realize how much of her earnings is being taken because her employer writes the check - and, of course, owns the policy, so if she changes jobs, she loses it.
Jane never had a baby, but she does know something about her mother’s experience. Back then, women paid in advance for their delivery, starting with small monthly payments as soon as they discovered they were pregnant. The hospital bill was something like $75 for a three-day stay, and you stopped by the business office on your way out to pay the bill or arrange a payment plan.
Poor Julia, who apparently doesn’t have a husband, is dependent upon “health care reform” for her prenatal care. With the increasingly costly requirements of Obamacare and the continuing malpractice threats, Julia will have fewer physicians from whom to choose.
Jane started her small business, a solo medical practice, with money she took out of her Veterans Affairs retirement plan. Back then, federal employees were not required to participate in Social Security, so their retirement funds actually belonged to them.
Poor Julia has to apply for a Small Business Administration loan, and it is far more expensive to start a business these days.
Jane has been forced to contribute to Social Security and Medicare since she left the VA, but her “contributions” already have been spent. Her benefits will be paid with taxes from poor Julia. Soon there will be only about two Julias to pay for each retired Jane. By the time Mr. Obama’s Julia reaches the age of Medicare eligibility, the program will be bankrupt.
The last entry in Julia’s life history is at age 67. Jane’s generation had hopes of living 20 years beyond that. That was before Mr. Obama’s health care reform and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
Dr. Jane M. Orient practices internal medicine and is executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.