A reader writes:
I am a 45 year old professional, employed in the legal and financial sectors. I have a wife, two beautiful children and a home in north New Jersey. In the last few years my compensation has been back-loaded, so we relied heavily on my year end bonus (which made up the bulk of my compensation). Bonuses were dependent on firm performance which, up until last year, was not an issue. In late 2008, my company had a massive downsizing. I was laid off without a severance package and no bonus in the middle of the recession.
We had enough savings to live off of for several months, but finding work in this economy was impossible. It was a humbling experience as I had never before been unemployed. I signed up for unemployment benefits for the first time in my life, and my family had to forgo many of the comforts that we had grown use to over the years.
In March, I decided to start my own business. It has been a rough year, as we went many months without income, and have depleted most of our savings. We are starting to gain traction, however, and 2010 looks promising. We are not out of the woods by any means, but we are optimistic.
I write to point out how two of President Obama's initiatives have directly impacted my family. First, I was able to get a significant reduction in my mortgage interest from my lender as a result of the Home Affordable Modification program. Second, through the COBRA subsidy, we were able to keep our health insurance in tact for the last nine months (and now for an additional six months more). This was significant, as my wife had to recently undergo an operation that would have wiped out our savings had we not been insured. These two initiatives by our President have saved us thousands of dollars a month and have given me the breathing room to create a business that, hopefully, will lead to a secure and stable future for me and my family.
Before this year I never gave much thought to social programs, frankly, I neither needed or qualified for them. However, when the time came that I needed assistance, the government was there to help. I am extremely grateful to our President and his allies in Congress, as their policies have had an immediate and direct impact on my family. Without the MHA and Cobra subsidy, it is likely that we would have lost our home and filed for bankruptcy.