President Obama’s Smile

Member Group : Lincoln Institute

My dental challenges actually began a couple of years ago when I lost a fight with a rabbit. The building that I work in is a 300 year old fieldstone tavern and some rocks in the foundation had come loose. My furry friend decided one cold night to dig his way into the warm basement at 3AM. Mr. Bunny set off a string of burglar alarms that got me out of bed and brought the local police. Upon discovery the fleet footed intruder promptly scurried out the hole he had used to come in, letting the officers go back to work with a reminder that maybe the alarm system shouldn’t be on a hair trigger.

The next day I knew I had to end the nocturnal invasion of the hares. Leave it to a columnist to try to plug a hole that is 16 feet from a concrete floor using a 12 foot ladder. When it slid out from under me, the ladder actually broke my fall. Unfortunately it used my mouth to do that. There’s been two years of agony, wearing the full dental "Deliverance- Look" to get it fixed. Now I’m down to the painfully expensive wire. If the dentist was suffering from the recession before I showed up, he’s well on the road to recovery.

I had high hopes for some financial assistance to if you will, to fill my gaps, when my local Congressman gave me a summary copy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That’s the one that describes itself as ‘providing $787 billion in urgently needed stimulus funds.’ For Pennsylvania the numbers are huge. There are 40 line items summarized for our state and the tally on the first 3 alone reaches $2 billion. Throw that out 37 more times and you’ll hit, who knows, $40, $50, $60 billion?

There are so many good things in this bill that I just knew one of these programs would give me some financial recovery while I reinvested in my teeth. One of the first ones that caught my eye was an additional $22.9 million in assistance to Head Start Programs in Pennsylvania. Since teeth are in the head and mine are getting a new start I thought I might get some help there. But no money out of that one if you are over 5 years old. Two million dollars has been ratcheted up for Senior Meals Programs. If I needed a few yogurts over the next couple of weeks it might chip in for that expense. I guess I’m happy I don’t meet the age requirement just yet.

Striking out there I thought maybe I could get the dentist some cash and he could give me a credit. President Obama’s bill has lots of credits in it. There’s $1.3 billion that expires in June for "Extension of Transitional Medical Assistance." Since I am transitioning my teeth I thought that might be a hook. There’s another $86 billion for Temporary Federal Medical Assistance with a bonus attached to it. That angle might work since I’ll only be in the dentist’s chair temporarily.

Maybe the dentist can consider this an educational experience. Education is a high priority in the administration’s stimulus bill. There’s over $3 billion floating around the Keystone State to improve all kinds of education. But since the dentist has two advanced Ivy League degrees I don’t think there will be any money for me there either.

One thing President Obama has is a great smile. Someday soon I hope to again have one just like his. The pain of it is that with some $787 billion being given away all over this country there isn’t a dime out there for dentally challenged columnists. On the other hand there is something in history’s biggest pork barrel called "Extension of Enhanced Small Business Expensing." Maybe I can use that one to buy a new ladder.

Albert Paschall is senior fellow at The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, a non-profit educational foundation based in Harrisburg. Somedays is syndicated to leading newspapers and radio stations in Pennsylvania. [email protected]

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