CHARLESTON — Lynn Meffert’s parents were young adults during the Great Depression, and she grew up hearing stories of their struggles.
“The soup kitchens and the bread lines,” said Meffert, a retired Charleston resident who plans to vote for President Barack Obama. “We missed it by a heart beat. We avoided it because of what Obama did with the auto industry and the stimulus money. It was money well-spent because we saved jobs.”
Meffert knows the U.S. economy has not healed and many still are struggling to find work.
But the retired small business owner says now is the time to double down on the efforts started by President Obama, not vote him out of office. Obama inherited a financial mess in 2008, has done much to improve it and deserves more time to do more, she says.
Critics say Obama’s stimulus program failed and, if re-elected, he offers nothing more than four years of the same.
“I am one of the people who believe we have come a great way in the four years under his leadership,” Meffert said. “I trust his leadership more than anything. He’s tremendously capable and thoughtful, and determined to do what is best for everyone in this country.”
Obama’s economic plan for the next four years promises more improvement, Meffert said. That plan includes ending the war in Afghanistan and using some of the money saved to pay down the national debt and also put Americans to work building infrastructure projects.
“We’ve been paying for wars on credit cards,” said Meffert, 67. “It’s time we get involved in nation building here at home, focusing on home and not hemorrhaging money for these wars.”
Meffert doesn’t think it is a bad idea to ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes, as Obama wants. Critics say tax hikes would kill investment and job creation. But Meffert sees it as making sense.
“The system has its advantages, its loopholes for those who make more. I don’t begrudge them ... that’s the nature of our society,” she said. “(But) we have a responsibility to each other. ... The top can’t be healthy if the bottom isn’t healthy.”
Paying down the federal debt is important, Meffert said, but it must be balanced with providing services that Americans deserve and want.
“The debt needs to be tended to, but it’s not to a point where it can’t be managed. It’s all fear based. I trust Obama to do it with a dedicated scalpel,” she said. “The Republicans are out there wanting to eviscerate government. I like fire and police services, and I like public education. And I like the safety nets.”
That safety net includes Medicare, which insures retiree Meffert.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to be on Medicare,” she said, adding federal health-care reform could provide a similar sense of security to all Americans. “If the federal government can run Medicare with a 1 percent administration cost and the same thing with the VA, why should we be paying a 20 percent cost to private insurance companies?”
Reach Smith at (803) 771-8658.