Ben Bernanke. Bernie Sanders; Who Will Build A Better America?



Sanders outlines his objections to Ben Bernanke re-confirmation

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The adage is “Time moves on.”  The assumption is all will get better.  However, for the little people in the United States, those who work, pay taxes, and still cannot make ends meet, life has been a backward motion.  Throughout the history of America, it was believed the people, with the assistance of elected Representatives, and well-chosen regulators would ensure that the United States was solid, strong, and fiscally viable.  Currently the public is told. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has saved the country from certain crash.   However, for the first time in generations, the population feels as though it is in free fall.

Children cannot necessarily expect to earn more than their parents.  The plight of average American Moms and Dads is, in 2009, the burden of their brood.  Each asks, as they had not felt a need to do only years earlier.  Who will build a better America?

Policymakers, once thought to have that charge assigned to them , today are insensitive to the needs of the people who labor for a living.  Those in the Halls of Congress and government offices, elected and appointed, disregard the realities of those who reap little if any real rewards.  Public policy officials praise each other, pat the backs of those responsible for the nation’s decline.  Indeed,  Administrators are anointed and then reappointed, just as Fed Chair Ben Bernanke has been and is about to be!

Presidents and Representatives have long reveled in the presence of the Federal Reserve Chairman who helped make the once possible and predictable American Dream, now impossible. This week, as Ben Bernanke’s second appointment was being considered US Senators posed pointed questions in regards to the role Of Fed, But Largely Praise the Chair, Bernanke. A few within the Senate Banking Committee were critical.  Nonetheless, the conventional wisdom was Ben Bernanke would be easily approved again.  Then Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont spoke.

The Senator pointed out that the Fed Chair has held the position for years.  On this occasion, he, Sanders, would do all he could to stop another Bernanke appointment.  It seemed, until this moment, just as inn the past, no one apart from Bernie Sanders had dared to even stall or block the process.  Certainly, Congress would present arguments, offer advice, grand stand, and then make the supreme gesture.  Ben Bernanke would be anointed in charge of the people’s cash.  With the Senate Floor under his feet and the face of a stunned Bernanke in his sight, Bernie Sanders spoke of what no one else had the courage to do, at least not while in the Congressional Chambers.

“The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interests of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few,” Sanders said. “What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy.”  . . .

“The American people want a new direction on Wall Street and at the Fed.  They do not want as chairman someone who has been part of the problem and who has been responsible for many of the enormous difficulties that we are now experiencing,” . . .

The Federal Reserve has four main responsibilities: to conduct monetary policy in a way that leads to maximum employment and stable prices; to maintain the safety and soundness of financial institutions; to contain systemic risk in financial markets; and to protect consumers against deceptive and unfair financial products.

Since Bernanke took over as Fed chairman in 2006, unemployment has more than doubled and, today, 17.5 percent of the American workforce is either unemployed or underemployed.

Not since the Great Depression has the financial system been as unsafe, unsound, and unstable as it has been during Mr. Bernanke’s tenure.  More than 120 banks have failed since he became chairman.

Under Bernanke’s watch, the value of risky derivatives held at our nation’s top commercial banks grew from $110 trillion to more than $290 trillion, 95 percent of which are concentrated in just five financial institutions.

Bernanke failed to prevent banks from issuing deceptive and unfair financial products to consumers.  Under his leadership, mortgage lenders were allowed to issue predatory loans they knew consumers could not afford to repay. This risky practice was allowed to continue long after the FBI warned in 2004 of an “epidemic” in mortgage fraud.

After the financial crisis hit, Bernanke’s response was to provide trillions of dollars in virtually zero-interest loans and other taxpayer assistance to some of the largest financial institutions in the world.  Adding insult to injury, Bernanke refused to tell the American people the names of the institutions that received this handout or the terms involved.

“Mr. Bernanke has failed at all four core responsibilities of the Federal Reserve. It’s time for him to go.”

Senator Sanders stressed and asked, under Ben Bernanke, what happened to the middle class.  Average Americans could not sustain a comfortable life.  Mothers and Fathers feel as though they have failed.  Yet, without guilt for abundant greed, the banks flourished.  Parents poured out their hearts and expressed pain to progeny they yearn to support.  Young children learned to fear whether there would be adequate food or shelter.  Adolescents postponed their dreams.  Some near adulthood have come to realize they cannot consider college education an option.  

It is not that teens and twenty-something’s do not work hard enough to succeed in school. Indeed, the young must labor harder and harder.  There are bills to pay.  Moms and Dad’s are often unemployed,, or barely hanging on.   Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke receives accolades from the ruling class, big businesses, banks, and beneficiaries of policies that further profits for the few, and force the many into bankruptcy and foreclosure.

Health care costs have soared in the recent years.  The reality is employers no long guarantee benefits.  Indeed, 0ut of pockets expenses charged to laborers are on the rise.  Companies have cut back.  People are pleased just to have paychecks.  Consequently countless have made the sacrifice.  Less funds, increased hours, such is the life of paid staff in America during an economic recession, or so is the explanation.  

The past is and was prologue.  As the American people reflect on The Great Depression and draw comparisons, they sense the pressure is on.  Vermont Senator Sanders accepts that, and hopes to alleviate the load on the people.  Just as he had tried to do in the Spring of the year Senator Bernie Sanders, on behalf of the American people asked the critical question.  Might the American citizens insist that every Senator and the President pose the same.  Why would we the people, the country wish to hire Ben Bernanke again?  What has he done with the people’s money, to meet the needs of the American population, and why?



Bernanke will you tell American people to whom Fed Res lent $2.2 trillion of their dollars?

The voice from Vermont bellowed what had Chairman Bernanke done and an actual answer could not be heard.  

Americans could know, under the direction of Ben Bernanke financial institutions have been allowed to hide from regulators and regulations.   Banks have built an empire.  Numerous financial firms failed.  Faulty oversight, aggressive acquisitions, and an insatiable hunger for greater profits have driven the country to the brink.

However, most citizens are by necessity concerned with their own daily doings.  The few amongst the electorate who have time or energy to read the papers, listen to the news might acknowledge as Bernie Sanders has.  Ben Bernanke has been lauded with much praise from powerbrokers and The White House under Republican and Democratic rule.  The people could say as the Vermont Senator has; Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke has not built a better America.

This reality is invisible from government limousines, or from the vantage point of officials who walk on the most venerated streets within the District of Columbia.  Thankfully Bernie Sanders has stayed in touch.  He talks of what is real for the American people, those not in the beltway.  Perhaps, the question not asked in the Senate Banking Committee hearing is, who will build a better America, Ben Bernanke, or Bernie Sanders, with the help of the electorate.

References, Regulators, Representatives, and the Republic . . .

Tim Geithner; Retention, Rewards, and Krugman Realizations



DN!>Paul Krugman (12) on $1 Trillion Geithner Plan to Buy Toxic Bank Assets

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Negotiations began in November.  Decisions were reached during the month of December.  By January, a retention bonus was awarded to the individual considered most superlative within the staff.  President Barack Obama presented the gift.  American International Group, Incorporated [AIG] executives did not receive the windfall.  Nor did someone “separate” from the previous President garner the honors.  Gold was not placed at the door of a New Deal Democrat.  No, dollars and command were delivered to a truly Progressive person.    Insider, Timothy Geithner was the recipient of a title that would sustain his service.  Mister Geithner was given a reward that was worth far more than mere millions in greenbacks.  Power and influence are priceless.

President Obama granted these “commodities” to one who worked to ensure banks and other financial institutions would continue to flourish just as they had in the Bush Era.  Now, the man with copious clout, wants more.

Indeed, Tim Geithner has already taken the reigns.  He has worked to set more rules.  Separate from Congressional approval for increased authority, and regardless of what regulatory standards the House and Senate might pass, Secretary Geithner, happily ensconced in President Obama’s favor, has begun to broaden his horizons.  He expresses his expansive preeminence, and all are a twitter.

New-found fame, a brighter, well-funded future befits the man whose face now appears everywhere.  Greater authority is as Tim Geithner was groomed to acquire.  Indeed, Secretary Geithner grew accustomed to attention and awards.

Perhaps, Timothy Geithner’s desire for further recompense, economically or emotionally, began when he was but a boy.  In his youth, the now Secretary of Treasury saw what could be wrought if one was well-connected.  His lineage allowed him to look into a world of affluence and advantages.  

Maternal grandfather, Charles F. Moore, was an adviser to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Mister Moore also served as a Vice President of Ford Motor Company.  “Dad,” Peter F. Geithner, was with the Ford Foundation.  Tim Geithner’s father oversaw the project that Ann Dunham, President Obama’s mother gave birth to.  Stanley Ann Soetoro and Tim’s Dad, developed microfinance programs in Indonesia.

This association alone might have helped Mister Geithner realize his path to the White House.  Some theorize, President Obama and Tim Geithner formed an invisible bond, one that ties them together today

Money, power, and privilege were given to Timothy Geithner from birth.  The more the lad “earned,” the more he hoped to receive in return.  A graduate of Dartmouth and John Hopkins, initially Tim Geithner worked for Kissinger Associates, Incorporated.  He then entered government, just as his forebears had.  Geithner first joined the Department of Treasury in 1988 and worked in three administrations for five Secretaries of the Treasury in a variety of positions.  He served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs from 1999 to 2001.  He was Director of the Policy Development and Review Department at the International Monetary Fund from 2001 until 2003.  Then, he headed the New York Reserve.  He befriended the acclaimed Economist Professor Paul Krugman.  The two are associates within The Group of Thirty, a Consultative Group on International Economic and Monetary Affairs.  It is no wonder President Obama was impressed and wanted to retain the financial expertise of one so esteemed.

Previously, the Secretary had succeeded, even exceeded expectations.  With each step, the esteemed Economic wizard takes, greater gratitude and gilt are given.  Hence, he moves forward.

Secretary Geithner addressed Congress on March 24, 2009.  He and his cohort, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke affirmed a need to be endowed with exceptional authority.  The two concurred.  The AIG catastrophe confirmed “a basic and tragic unfairness – that those who were prudent and responsible in their personal and professional judgments are harmed by the actions of those who were less careful and less prudent.”  Many would agree.  

On paper, the proposed request for increased control over financial institutions, other than banks, seems reasonable.  If Congress approves of the strategy, Federal authorities could seize a failed fiscal establishment.  Many believe the measures are long overdue.  However, several hesitate.  When they consider the fact, Secretary Geithner might be the person to decide the fate of these firms countless express concern.  Perchance, he is not the person to have or hold such extensive power.  

Esteemed Economist, and colleague Paul Krugman expressed disappointment after Mister Geithner revealed his bailout plan.  Nobel Prize recipient Krugman wrote in The New York Times, “”In fact it fills me with a sense of despair.”

“The Geithner scheme would offer a one-way bet: if asset values go up, the investors profit, but if they go down, the investors can walk away from their debt,” the Princeton University Economist explained, as he cited specifics within the proposed strategy.

Might the man Professor Krugman long admired not be competent to oversee the fringe financial institutions? Those who were uncertain Tim Geithner was ever the best, the brightest, or the person to be retained, are now joined by others who originally had confidence in the now Secretary of Treasury.  Since the appointment, and ample intangible appropriations were bestowed upon Secretary Geithner, the choice issue may be a moot point.  Only the battle for a bigger role, increased responsibility to regulate remains a subject of contention.

The Obama Administration, mostly through Tim Geithner, has compared the proposed process to the work of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  This favored institution protects depositors from bank failures.  Regulators can take control of a troubled depository, place it under the authority of the FDIC, and then, quickly, and competently, restructure the reserve

Perhaps, that is the most significant difference.  With consideration of the current economic crisis, and crucial assessments, the Secretary made prior to this plea for greater rule, Timothy Geithner showed no evidence of being swift or skilled in his ability to seize the moment or reign in American Insurance Group’s excesses.

As the former president of the New York Federal Reserve, Mister Geithner is the one Obama Administration official who is associated with the Bush-era bailouts.  Once AIG was under Federal control, public servants say, compensation arrangements were rarely, if ever, discussed.  In December, long before Tim Geithner received his own abundant reward, an initial $55 million in bonuses was delivered to the Insurance Group executives.  

At the time, the glorious Geithner did not decry the greed.  Indeed, even on this date late in March 2009, as he answered questions before the House Financial Services Committee, Secretary Geithner stated, “It’s a difficult balance.”  He then further explained his belief; the government should not dictate detailed executive compensation limits to bankers.  Timothy Geithner empathized with those who had been given retention bonuses.  Indeed, while he did not give voice to the thought, the Secretary understood, he too was a very recent beneficiary of such graciousness.

Perhaps, opponents of greater government oversight appreciated the more individualist posture Treasury Secretary Geithner presented. However, a few felt a vital veracity must be pondered.  An individual Presidential appointee [Geithner], and an agency [FDIC] with ample autonomy, are not one and the same.

Intentionally, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, unlike the Treasury Department, was designed to be separate from the political process.  The bureau acts in accordance to law.  Should Congress consent to the Geithner request, a person who is profoundly affiliated with a partial, political body, would have the authority to take possession of a business that displeases the White House.  Granted, supporters assure those who challenge the proposal, only corporations in crisis would be seized.  Nevertheless, dissenters declare, corporate collusion with government insiders would remains a concern.  A poorly regulated financial institution potentially would corrupt the government [further?].

Policy-wonks state, the power to take over banks or other alternative financial entities need be part of a broader regulatory structure.  Limits are set on the risks that economic establishments can take.  Therefore, the need for seizures is, and must be, more fully linked to violations.  The Obama Administration has expressed a desire to increase regulations on firms that might be eligible for seizure under the proposed law.  However, specifics have yet to be furnished.  

For now, the focus remains solely on the Treasury Secretary.  Tim Geithner seeks greater power than was given to him in the form of a gift, his title.

Unequivocally, Tim Geithner has received many accolades.  Perchance, he was and is deserving.  Secretary Geithner offered a welcome plan to resolve the mortgage meltdown the day before his most recent plea.  Wall Street applauded the strategy, as evidenced by a record rise in stocks.  The headlines for the long-anticipated program that would remove bank toxic assets and revive the financial system, bedazzled those with money to spend.  Rescue Plan, With Fine Print, Dazzles Wall Street. Urged on by his success, Secretary Geithner had reason to  hope he could garner greater authority.  Those with big bucks see his increased powers as a bonus.

Yet, the apprehension Nobel Prize Economist, Paul Krugman expressed on March 23, 2009, the day before this recent hearing hangs over the head of Treasury Secretary Geithner. Thankfully, rancor for the subprime solution seems to receive less attention, at least amongst the House Financial Services Committee.  Possibly, acrimony over Geithner’s past performances is also forgotten.

For a time it seemed Professor Krugman too had been willing to forgive and forget.  There was a time the Princeton Professor was with those who sanctioned the selection of Tim Geithner to Treasury.  Doctor Krugman had thought as President Obama did; Tim Geithner should be retained.  His mere presence in the Administration would be a worthy bonus.  Only months ago, Krugman approved of Geithner and his work.  In his article, The grown-ups are coming, the stellar observer of economic policy sardonically noted the Tim Geithner was an improvement in contrast to the  Bush Best and the Brightest.  

Paul Krugman spoke highly of his associate from The Group of Thirty, a Consultative Group on International Economic and Monetary Affairs.  That is, until Tim Geithner introduced his solution for toxic assets relief.

Perhaps times have changed.  Certainly, there is reason to think Timothy Geithner has not.  Nonetheless, earlier impressions and associations formed long ago linger in the present.

The New York Times Columnist and Economist publicly offered his “Despair over financial policy.” However, in a recent interview with Democracy Now’s, Amy Goodman, Krugman was reluctant to say the person who ascribes to lemon socialism, Timothy Geithner must go.

Paul Krugman as others may not have yet come to terms with contradictory views of the man who now Heads the Treasury.

Prior to the prize bequeathed on Mister  Geithner, all of his actions appeared above board and in alignment with the ethical standards President Obama set for his Cabinet.  The beneficiary of perks and power was perceived as an individual who had sacrificed much in order to serve his country.  Tim Geithner was subjected grueling to Senate hearings.  His records were scrutinized. To be certain no one would have reason to question the calculations, a highly respectable résumé was submitted.  

Before his selection, Mister Geithner served as President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.  In his career, he worked closely with former U.S. Federal Reserve Chief Alan Greenspan, Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and head of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, and oh yes, venerated Economist Paul Krugman.  

Overdue taxes were paid to ensure that all appeared proper and in order.  That is, at least some of the levees never accounted for were remunerated  Other outstanding tariffs, Tim Geithner was told, need not be paid,  The statute of limitations had lapsed.

Just as had been with much else in his life, Tim would be forgiven for his forgetfulness or failures to do what most think ethical.  No one would think to inquire of the enormous sums the Head of Treasury would garner for his friends, former colleagues, and himself.  People were expected to consider the pittance he “earned” as a civil servant and be reassured, Tim Geithner is committed to the good of the country.  After all, were he still with his previous employer, investment firm Goldman-Sachs,  Secretary Geithner’s salary would have been far greater.  

The power Timothy Geithner garnered throughout his life cannot be counted.  Personal financial gains for friends, former colleagues, and himself are ample.  Influence is near infinite.  Why not, some might say, give Geithner more authority to rule.  He has “earned” it.  Perhaps, one day in a sequel to Professor Krugman’s recent tome, “America the Tarnished”, the established Economist will reject the cry, “Why not indeed.”  He might even pen prose that state more directly  Timothy Geithner, his retention, and the rewards he has already received  are a significant part of “the crisis [that] has cost America much of its credibility, and with it much of its ability to lead.”

References for a Geithner Rule to be realized . . .

Updated Reference . . .

Clinton and Obama Offer Universal Health Care Plans; No Insurance



Clinton Obama Cleveland Ohio Debate – Health Care Battle

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Senators Clinton and Obama, bicker as you might, neither of you have proposed Universal Health Care plans.  Those who support you [plural] state a semantic argument attests to your authenticity.  Many espouse “universal” means “to affect, relate to, or include the whole.”  Granted, all Americans will be changed by your plans.  However, not everyone will be insured if either proposal is implemented.  

Indeed, every United States citizen can connect to the need for coverage.  Universally, we recognize we are in quite a predicament.  Whatever options are offered, the entire electorate will be forced to consider a personal response.  Universality, or an appeal to the aggregate, perhaps better defines what each of you have designed or delivered.

Have you Hillary Clinton or you Barack Obama introduced an actual Universal Health Care plan?  No.  Constituents concerns will be integrated into the agenda.  However, the proposals you have presented to the public, do Not guarantee that life for those who currently are without health insurance will be any better than it is now.  The only certainty Americans have is that some of what is will be altered, just slightly.  

Insurers will still control costs.  Pharmaceuticals can continue to profit, and the poor persons in Middle America will remain insecure, underinsured, and yes, even uninsured.  As one who for most of my adult life has not had insurance, I can assure you, that if a person lives paycheck-to-paycheck, they cannot afford insurance at any price!

I could recount the times that I lay writhing in pain, slipping in and out of consciousness; yet, unwilling to call for help for I feared the cost.  I might share the stories of how or when I went without treatment for the financial expense seemed far greater than the physical toll on my body.  I might mention my fear of an accident, or an age related concern that I need to attend to.  Preventative medicine, pooh-pooh.  I am among many who hope that my mind will control the matter.

I am among millions who still feel the repercussions of decisions made in the 1990’s.  You may remember then, the headlines screamed of the impending crisis.  Employers Winning Wide Leeway to Cut Medical Insurance Benefits.  People cringed.  The then President stepped in.  I am certain Senator Clinton you recall the day.  Bill Clinton appointed his wife to head a panel, which promised to better circumstances.  

Yet, fight as you say you did Hillary Clinton your combative energies did not cure what ails society.  What was, is.  Circumstances convened more than a decade ago continue unchecked.  So long ago, Americans read of a reality they lived.  Today, this phenomenon is normal.

A rapidly growing number of victims of cancer, AIDS and other serious illnesses are discovering that under recent court interpretations of a law that was originally intended to protect employees’ benefits, their insurance coverage can evaporate when they need it most.

The recent [1992] Federal court rulings have given employers that now act as their own insurers wide leeway to cut back on existing coverage — or to skimp on coverage in the first place.  These “self-insured” employers, a large majority of companies from giant corporations to an increasing number of smaller businesses, have been exempted from state insurance laws governing what ailments insurance companies must cover. . .

At the same time, a Supreme Court decision has made it much harder for patients under all kinds of health insurance plans to sue to get benefits they say have been unfairly denied . . .

In effect, the court rulings and the health plans that take advantage of them are another manifestation of a system of private health insurance in which the sick are increasingly separated from the well.

Americans have no assurance that this situation will improve.  Actually, there is ample evidence to indicate it will not.  The prospects for business are grim.  The economy suffers, as do the people.

The economic situation has become distinctly less favorable since the time of our July [2007] report.  Strains in financial markets, which first became evident late last summer, have persisted; and pressures on bank capital and the continued poor functioning of markets for securitized credit have led to tighter credit conditions for many households and businesses.

Slowing job creation is yet another potential drag on household spending. . .

The risks to this outlook remain to the downside.  The risks include the possibilities that the housing market or labor market may deteriorate more than is currently anticipated and that credit conditions may tighten substantially further.

Lest we forget, illness is the cause for one half of all personal bankruptcies.  Most of those who are infirm realized they cannot cover the debt.  These persons have health insurance.  A Harvard University study, conducted in 2005 revealed the inadequacy of many private insurance plans.  Doctors and lawyers examined the current crisis and offered, many policies offer worst-case catastrophic coverage, but little financial security for less severe illnesses.

“Unless you’re Bill Gates, you’re just one serious illness away from bankruptcy,” said Dr. David Himmelstein, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of medicine.  “Most of the medically bankrupt were average Americans who happened to get sick.”

Steffie Woolhandler, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, described what many of us know but do not wish to discuss.  

“Our study is fairly shocking.  We found that, too often, private health insurance is an umbrella that melts in the rain.”

Certainly, Senators Clinton and Obama you have not touched on this tender taboo in your “debate” rhetoric.  Businesses bleed.  Benefits hemorrhage; and Americans lose Health Care coverage, financial stability, or their lives.  The “Universal” not health care for all plans you each offer exacerbate or ignore what is.  Employment is provisional.  Company provided Health Insurance is more and more a luxury.  When institutions do offer the option, an individual is expected to pay a large part of the expense.  As Americans assess the plans put forth, if they bother to, your [plural] proposed policies do not offer much relief.  Sadly, for countless of the under or uninsured voters, such as I, we have been down so long, now a discussion looks like up.  In truth, talk is cheap.

Mandates that require a citizen with an uncertain salary to provide for their personal insurance needs will leave many in a legal predicament.  For the millions who struggle to survive lower rates bring them no hope.

As prices for fuel, food, and shelter rise, those who could not afford to go to the movie theatre, buy clothing, dine away from home, or vacation certainly will not find the funds to purchase medical insurance,  Gainfully, employed citizens who cannot afford to purchase beyond the basics will not be able to pay for coverage.  The tens of millions who fear a minor fall, for they know, even one Emergency Room visit can break the bank will not be moved to purchase what remains out of reach.  Please Senators, before you begin your ascent to the Oval Office reflect on what is real for most Americans.

[O]f the 47 million uninsured people in the United States, 7.3 million come from families with incomes of $75,000 or more, and an additional 6.9 million earn between $50,000 and $75,000, according to 2006 census estimates.

Some of those with moderate or high incomes may have been shut out of the insurance market because of age or pre-existing health conditions.  Researchers believe a majority are self-employed or among the growing number of Americans whose employers do not offer affordable insurance.  Their only insurance options may be high-priced individual policies.

Those comfortably covered love to discuss the individuals who waste their dollars or do not pay for what they believe they do not, or will not need.  In a recent New York Times report readers were introduced to a twenty-three year old lovely who believed she paid her way through taxes.  She smiled and spoke of the free medical clinics available to her.  Ms. Coons mused,

“I’m young and in pretty good shape,” Ms. Coons said one recent afternoon, on her way to the treadmill at the Fitness Factory in Midtown Atlanta.  “I looked at Blue Cross Blue Shield.  But the only thing I could see myself really needing it for are prescriptions and dental  . . .

She continued, “The insurance premium was more than what I would pay for my prescriptions, so I just decided not to deal with it.”

Times journalists asked Americans to consider the circumstances of those who use the system and do not pay premiums.  Fraud was implied, or a “free ride” was defined and accounted for.

Many free riders are assumed to be young and at little risk of major illness, but they do consume health care.  A recent analysis by the New America Foundation, a Washington policy group, found that 16 percent of the patients who received uncompensated medical care in 2004 had family incomes of at least four times the federal poverty level (which would currently be $41,600 for an individual and $84,800 for a family of four).

They accounted for $5.8 billion of the estimated $41.4 billion in uncompensated care that year.

However, what was not discussed was the ounce of prevention and the pounds paid for a hopeful cure.  Ms. Coons might have been me years ago.  She may not have stated or contemplated an illness, or unexpected injury.  I too appeared fit.  An interviewer might have seen me on the way to the pool.  He may inquire of my Health Insurance plan, or lack there of.  I, possibly would not have explained that I severely injured my back long ago, and then, due to the damage lost my job.  At the time, my employer feared medical charges I might incur, and now I must swim daily to remain physically stable.

In embarrassment, in my youth, I could have, would have, given a glib response.  For decades, I did not wish to speak with strangers of the bulimia I battled.  The preexisting condition that I paid for dearly, helped to affirm medical coverage was not available to me.

I know not of Ms. Coons.  I can only speak for myself.  Bulimia or other “disorders” do not burden my life today.  I do not imbibe any alcoholic beverages.  I never did.  Drugs do not deliver me from depression or dismay.  Prescription and street fare were not my medications of choice.  I have no addictions to strain my budget.  I am but one of millions who scrimps, wishes to save, finds it futile, and fears the veracity.

[T]here is also a shift to the privately insured.  Hospitals and doctors raise their fees to compensate for the losses they incur by treating uninsured and underinsured patients, and insurers pass those increases along to consumers.  A 2005 study found that the shift added 8.5 percent to the average premium.

Presidential aspirants, please ponder what the pundits have not.  Numbers on paper may look lovely.  Economists can scribble statistics on scratch paper.  Power Point presentations can graph the details in glorious color.  Experts can pen impressive essays, and America trusts that you, the candidates can eloquently deliver the text.  Yet, as you may know . . .

Neither campaign has provided enough detail about its plan to enable more than guesswork about how it might influence consumers . . . They have not detailed what kind of subsidies would be needed or who would be entitled to them.  Mrs. Clinton has not fully explained how she would make everyone comply with her plan or exactly how she would cap the amount a family would have to spend on premiums.

Each candidate would raise the money needed to subsidize premiums by rolling back President Bush’s tax cuts for high earners, taxing businesses that do not insure their workers and reducing costs through electronic record keeping, preventive medicine and chronic disease management.

But there is little certainty about how much those initiatives might save, or when. . . .  There are also questions about whether the new savings and tax increases would be enough to subsidize insurance for all who need help.

Both candidates are backed by teams of prominent economists from top universities and policy groups.  But with little real-world precedent to guide them, their assessments are necessarily an amalgam of statistical modeling and back-of-the-envelope calculation.

“In a campaign, people put out proposals that aren’t highly specified, that don’t have enough detail to model them effectively,” said E. Richard Brown, director of the Center for Health Policy Research at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an Obama adviser.  “These numbers are based on a lot of assumptions.”

In speeches, debates and dueling advertisements, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama have brandished projections that even their originators acknowledge are tenuous.

Senators Clinton and Obama, when your own authoritative advisors admit the claims are unsubstantiated, formulas are fragile, and the numbers are shaky, there is reason for concern. Stalwart as you each may be, this character trait may not be a strength in times such as these.  Lives are at stake.  Illness and injuries occur in every moment.  Accidents are not preventable.  People bleed as the two of you argue over the specifics of inadequate agendas.  

If you truly wish to insure every American, be honest with yourselves and us [the citizens of the United States].  The only genuine Universal Health Care Plan is a Single Payer, Not For Profit program.

Your passionate pleas, your tears, and talk do not comfort a citizenry or a system sick and in dire need of help.  Please, feel our pain and protect us.  We, the people need a President that cares.  Provide the preventive, practical, and profound programs.  Do not continue to play with language.  We the people languish, as either of you smile and say, “My plan provides Universal Health Insurance.”  I could just cry, but I worry.  What if I were to weep endlessly?  Dehydration might send me to the hospital.  I cannot afford to see a physician, let alone the premiums you [plural] wish to charge me.

Universal Woes; Wounds, Worry, and the Source of Scars . . .