Four Years Later
Exactly four years ago today, I wrote my first post for BlogHer. In that first column, I wrote about the kind of father and husband Barack is for the girls and me. I wrote about how he would fight to build an economy that rewards hard work and responsibility, ensures a good education for all our kids, and improves access to quality, affordable health care. And I wrote about how he’d put in place policies that make it easier for women to care for their families without having to worry about choosing between their kids and their careers.
Four years later, looking back on those words reminds me of how hard we fought and how far we’ve come since that first campaign. But more than anything, seeing those words fills me with pride, because they show that Barack keeps his promises. He said he’d have the backs of American women and our families. And that’s what he’s done every single day as President.
Starting with the very first bill he signed as President -- the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work -- Barack showed us who he’s fighting for. As someone who was raised by a single mom who struggled to pay the bills and a grandmother who hit a glass ceiling at her job and watched men she trained climb the career ladder in front of her, Barack knows how important it is for women to be paid fairly for their work. He knows how this pay gap can affect American women. It might mean that they’re losing out on $50, $100, or $500 from each paycheck. It might mean a family doesn’t have enough money for gas, groceries, or school clothes for their kids. And that’s a good example of how Barack views every issue that comes across his desk as President.
Take health care, for example. Barack stood up for health reform because of what it means to families all across the country. He wanted to make sure that insurance companies could no longer deny people coverage because of a pre-existing condition. He wanted to stop those companies from charging women more than men for the same coverage. He wanted to make sure that preventive services like prenatal screenings, mammograms, and contraception are covered without a co-pay.
In the end, Barack understands that issues like women’s health care and fair pay aren’t just women’s issues. They’re family issues. They’re basic economic issues. When women don’t get paid what they deserve for their work, or when they have to pay more for their health care, it means that families have less money to go around every month. That means less money going to businesses in our communities. And that affects our entire economy.
You see, that’s how Barack thinks about things. None of this is abstract to him. He’s thinking about how these policies affect the woman who’s worried about paying for her kids’ college tuition. He’s thinking about whether he can help the family that’s struggling to keep their house. He’s thinking about everyone out there who just wants a fair shot at success in this country.
That’s why he’s fighting for middle class tax cuts. That’s why he’s investing in education at all levels -- from increasing funding for Head Start to doubling Pell Grants to stopping an interest rate increase on student loans. And that’s why he’s promoting clean energy, spurring innovation, and improving infrastructure. Barack wants to build an economy where responsibility is rewarded and everybody plays by the same rules. He wants to preserve that fundamental American promise that no matter who you are or how you started out, if you work hard enough, you can build a decent life for yourself.
And really, isn’t that what we all want most for our kids? Isn’t that the world of opportunity we want to create for all Americans? When I tuck my girls in at night, that’s what I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about the world I want to leave for them. I want to give them a foundation for their dreams. I want to give them opportunities worthy of their promise. And that’s what I want not just for my daughters, but for all of our daughters and all of our sons. I want every young person growing up in America today to have that sense of limitless possibility -– that belief that here in America, there’s always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it.
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