Do you want to keep more of your hard-earned money? Let’s consider the factors and issues in the November election that can take a toll on our pocketbooks and bank accounts.
With inflation at 40-year highs — and following decades of low or zero inflation — many Americans and especially low- and moderate-income citizens, are hurting because of the higher prices of gasoline, used cars and most of the items on grocery store shelves. We are also finding it difficult to get our hands on new cars, electronics and baby formula owing to disrupted supply chains caused by COVID, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and possibly the policies of the Federal Reserve Bank. Given inflation’s causes, pinning the blame for it on elected officials is like blaming a meteorologist for a hurricane.
However, inflation is not the only thing at issue in November, so let’s monetize some other areas that could have even greater impact on us.
Seniors received some virtual dollars this year when Congress placed a $2,000 ceiling on their out-of-pocket prescription costs and finally mandated that Medicare has the authority to negotiate drug prices. Many in Congress also want to reduce the price of the commonly used diabetes medicine, insulin. These savings will give fixed-income Americans a greater capacity to withstand inflationary pressures coming from other sectors of the economy.
Some candidates are also in favor of negotiating drug prices for the entire population since the U.S. continues to subsidize the pharmaceutical industry by paying far more for prescription drugs than any other developed nation. For instance, most nights you can see a commercial for Eliquis (a treatment for AFib), Jardiance (metastatic breast cancer), or Rinvoq (eczema). According to pharmacychecker.com, at this writing the lowest per pill price for Eliquis in the U.S. is $9.92, compared to the cheapest international price of forty-seven cents. For Jardiance the comparison is $18.61 versus seventy-five cents, and for Rinvoq it’s $183.88 compared to just $50.12. These disparities are simply outrageous. Voters intent on lowering their expenses should choose candidates who are more likely to support negotiated drug prices for every American.
Another prominent issue on this year’s ballot is individual freedom. The Dobbs decision rendered by the Supreme Court has severely challenged a women’s right to have control over her body, and therefore her financial life. States such as Maryland still protect a woman’s right to choose, but women living in states that prohibit abortions, at the very least, face additional travel and lodging expenses if they opt for abortion. If they can’t access the medical care they need, they must bear the unplanned expense of another child — from prenatal doctor’s visits onward.
Another disturbing anti-democratic trend is passage of state laws granting a legislature or secretary-of-state the power to countermand the popular vote in an election. If a state can undermine the will of a majority of its citizens, what’s to prevent it from instituting regressive tax codes or undertaking construction project boondoggles? Wasn’t this country founded on opposition to such outlandish abuses of power? Where does your chosen candidate stand on these issues?
Last, but certainly not least, scientists are warning us about the increased volume of water in the clouds. One of these “atmospheric rivers,” according to one scientist, wrought savage destruction on Kentucky this year. In fact, such clouds can hold as much water as three Mississippi rivers.
Oh, and have you checked your home insurance premiums recently? The frequency and duration of fires in the West, the unprecedented summer temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, the drying up of the Colorado River at Lake Meade and Lake Powell, the savage destruction of Hurricane Ian, and other extraordinary natural phenomena inevitably figure into actuarial calculations. According to Policygenius.com, the cost of home insurance has risen faster than inflation. From May 2021 to May 2022, overall prices in America increased 8.6%. Every state but one analyzed by Policygenius saw their home insurance premiums increase faster than inflation, and in thirteen of those states premium hikes exceed the inflation rate by more than 50%.
But that’s not all, if you own a home on the water or in the Sunbelt, you are at risk of seeing your investment depreciate as hurricanes intensify and make parts of the country uninhabitable. This raises the uncomfortable question: How many times will our society pay to rebuild communities that flood or burn every couple of years.
Nobody likes inflation, but in 2022 voters are advised to select candidates who pledge to save them more money by reversing climate change, decreasing health care costs and protecting the security of our votes. Our votes being the life’s blood of our democracy, let’s commit to researching the issues and candidates before November 8. Vote411.org and Votesmart.org, among others, are easy-to-use, nonpartisan websites where you can learn where the candidates stand on positions and issues that will affect us all in 2023. So, let’s read up and then show up to vote — creating our best hoped-for future.
Joe Garonzik email@example.com is a historian who is committed to civic education.