It is a tangled web the Republican Congress and the White House has woven; playing on what appears to be a common distrust of government they spent years vilifying a program with repetitive but nonsensical arguments such as the death panel provision, the taking of $500 billion out of Medicare, that the law was unconstitutional, a job killer and, recently, an erroneous explanation for healthcare premium increases. They got what they wanted; control of Congress and the White House based largely on the promise to repeal the law. Now, as we listen to Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) tell us how well the American Healthcare Act will meet our insurance needs, they have become that government not to be trusted and one that is serving to the special interests at the expense of the taxpayers, many who are poor.
Now they’re stuck. If they hadn’t used that law to attack Obama and Democrats in the run up to the elections between 2010 and 2016, if they realized the ACA had some easily fixable flaws, if they hadn’t hung their political hats on nonsense the insurance markets would be stabilized, people would be healthier and more productive, and Medicare would continue to be improved.
Those folks are now faced with thinking they have to make good on their promise and have provided a replacement that struggles to gain more than 17% approval from Americans. Why would Republicans want to take away basic coverage for those in need under Medicaid? Why would Republicans want to reduce the number of people with necessary insurance forcing them to expensive emergency room visits? Why would their constituents support such nonsense?
Haly Barbour come to mind.
In Mississippi if the legislature does not act on Medicaid the job is given to the governor. When that happened in the early 2000s Governor Barbour cut the service to 65,000 poor Mississippians. It was reported at the time that his reason was they didn’t earn it.
You have to wonder where that type of thinking comes from. Reagan highlighted a woman he called a welfare queen who, in fact, did game the system but not nearly to the extent that Reagan said. Barbour followed Reagan’s lead on that. Apparently it only takes one or a few examples to conclude that the whole idea of helping the poor is just a giveaway to lazy people.
I lived once in a small town where the average age was 75 and the average income was $17,500. The $17,500 was a skewed number because some had done well enough in life. Most, though, had worked all their lives. Many retired without pensions or much in the bank so Medicare and Social Security was about it for them. Even among those ‘affluent’ residents their wealth and savings were destroyed by a major illness or, in the mid-2000’s the recession destroyed what little pensions they may have had.
It was easy for those outside of the town to say, ‘well, they didn’t plan their lives well. Why should my tax dollars go to them?’ Perhaps so but what is overlooked by those judging the poor is that not everyone come equipped with the intelligence and natural skills to do well and so they didn’t. No one could have predicted the loss of jobs and wealth the Great Recession brought upon us. But they worked all their lives, paid their taxes, many served in the military. They were all Americans doing the best they could. They obeyed the laws and were patriotic. But according to a conservative Congress their needs don’t count. As this congressional majority tries to get out of the jam they put themselves in they lean on the most vulnerable and justify that by using the simple sentence ‘they didn’t earn it’.