Courier-Journal Letter: Better Off Than Four Years Ago

Kentucky Young Democrats President Liz Fossett shared with the Courier-Journal ways in which young people are better off under the Obama administration than they were in the past.

Americans were asked last week, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” I did not waver on this question. Four years ago, I graduated college in the worst economic conditions of my lifetime, and today I am so thankful for the work done by President Barack Obama and Democrats to improve the lives of young people.

Just before President George W. Bush’s historic 2008 “economic bailout,” companies were sloughing jobs and young people, first-generation college graduates and those from modest income families like me, were concerned about paying back student loans we had been grateful to secure. Now, under President Obama’s administration, young people are able to pay back student loans at a graduated rate, at only a certain percentage of their income, in case they are faced with similar unemployment or underemployment.

For the record, Mitt Romney has expressed that students should not expect an increase in Pell Grants under his presidency, and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, worked with House Republicans this summer to pass a budget that would allow federal student loan interest rates to double. The future for young Americans looking to improve their lives through education looks bleak under a Romney-Ryan administration.

Also important for young workers today is that jobs are growing and not declining as they were four years ago; this is an obvious improvement. Our economy is big, and I didn’t expect President Obama could fix everything in four years that had been broken over the previous eight. Many doubted Obama when he decided in 2009 that he wouldn’t let this important sector die, and today, as former President Bill Clinton said last week at the Democratic National Convention, we have 250,000 more auto workers in America because of Obama’s plan who would probably agree they are better off now than four years ago. We feel the effects here in Kentucky; the GM plant in Bowling Green very well may have been shuttered had the president not stepped in. Mitt Romney has offered no plan to create jobs and famously announced to the country he thought we should “let Detroit go bankrupt”; if he were to be elected, I think I’d be writing a very different letter in four years.

Four years ago, I didn’t have the option to return to my parents’ health insurance, and instead had to look for options like high-cost COBRA plans to ensure I had no lack of coverage, not only because I’d live in fear of getting sick or hurt, but also because an insurance company could eventually use that against me to deny coverage.

Now, not only am I glad that young people have these options so they can leave high school and college with one less concern, but also that the Affordable Care Act didn’t forget about women. No longer will our mothers and sisters have to worry about paying for important preventive care like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings. And, should any of these preventive screenings come back with bad results, no one will have to worry any longer about being dropped from their insurance coverage as a survivor because they have a pre-existing condition or because they’ve met a lifetime limit for care. Just ask cancer survivors and mothers of children like Zoe Lihn, the Arizona infant who was born with a congenital heart defect and met half of her lifetime coverage at six months due to surgeries, if they are better off today than they were four years ago.

In Kentucky, we rank highest among cancer patients and cancer deaths in the United States. The health insurance reform will help so many across the commonwealth, and will touch even more lives as families worry a little less about taking care of ailing family members. Not only has the Obama administration helped reform health care, but it has also pledged to save Medicare, which has helped American seniors get much needed medical care since 1965.

As important as it is to re-elect Congressman (Ben) Chandler, it is also vital we re-elect Congressman John Yarmuth, and work to keep the Kentucky State House in Democratic hands, so they can continue to guard education, public safety, and health care funding for people across the commonwealth.

The road to recovery may not be short, but President Obama and the Democratic Party have made huge strides in less than four years. If given another four, I believe we can bring America back to the prosperity of the 1990s, the prosperity we found under Democratic President Clinton. If you are interested in getting involved or learning more about why the Democratic Party is the best choice for the 2012 election, please visit

Liz Fossett is president of the Kentucky Young Democrats and a graduate student at the University of Kentucky. She can be reached at