“If you ask someone to give up something, there will be resentment”

The current healthcare replacement plan Congressional Republicans are ramming through will hurt working and older Americans on low incomes. Though we don’t have solid numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office because of the speed at which they’re moving the bill, other assessments show millions of Americans could lose their insurance. Here is the catch, those same Congressional Republicans are beginning to publicly show they don’t necessarily care.

Congressman Michael Burgess

In Saturday’s New York Times there was a telling moment of candor from Rep. Michael C. Burgess. When it comes to the political difficulty of pushing through a healthcare policy without fully understanding the impacts on the economy and people’s insurance coverage, Rep. Burgess had this to say:

If you ask someone to give up something, there will be resentment. If that claims my congressional career, so be it. It will have been worth it to effect this change. – Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas

The “something” Burgess is asking people to give up? Their health insurance. You know, the thing that is supposed to help people afford procedures and check-ups to stay healthy and alive. But here is the thing, under the current healthcare replacement plan, only the working poor and middle class appear to be the ones asked to give up something. Meanwhile, insurance CEOs and upper-income earners will receive large tax cuts. This isn’t just my opinion; it is from analysis by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. In other words, some are being asked to give up nothing while others are being asked to potentially give up everything.

You may recall hearing of Rep. Burgess on ND xPlains before. That is because Rep. Cramer invited him to visit with healthcare stakeholders in North Dakota a couple of weeks ago. Rep, Burgess, is “one of the prime architects of the repeal and replace legislation.” Since that meeting, some of the organizations and associations in attendance have come out against the Burgess-Cramer healthcare plan. One of the reasons associations have joined opposition is because of what their plan does to Medicaid Expansion which especially helps the working poor.

Congressman Kevin Cramer

Rep. Cramer has shown his disdain for low-income people before this healthcare debate. In 2013, Cramer voted against food assistance for low-income families. When he was called out on it, he quoted a Bible verse: “For even when we are with you, we would give you this command: If you are not willing to work, let him not eat.” This was the same year Cramer insisted he was keeping his paycheck during the 2013 Government shutdown because “he earned it.”

Apparently, the Congressman buys into the notion that low-income families are lazy and do not work, or are in their situation based solely on poor decision making. It is the same mentality Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah used when he suggested poor people need to choose between iPhones and insurance. I don’t buy into that. Is it the reason some individuals find themselves in the lower income bracket? Yes. But, I’ve seen too many families in my time in the Senate and my work in the non-profit sector who bust their ass, some even working more than one job, and still can’t afford much. We should not pull the rug from under those individuals. Sometimes the very reason families end up with little to no money is because they became sick and medical expenses took everything they had. This was especially true before Obamacare became law. Oh, the irony.

It is also important to remember Cramer has been on government provided health insurance likely since 1993, give or take a year or two. He was appointed to State Tourism Director under Governor Ed Schafer. He was then appointed to be the Economic Development Director, and eventually appointed to the Public Service Commission. The “Good Old Boys” network will always find you a cozy job in government with the best health insurance around if you play your cards right.

For those who aren’t politicians with the inside track to government health insurance, this bill being rushed through may make insurance unaffordable if you are the working poor or lower middle class. I write this to demonstrate that some of these elected officials don’t understand the plight of the working poor. And with the candid comments by Burgess over the weekend and Cramer in 2013, it appears they don’t care either.

Tyler Axness
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