Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is a horrible person. During an appearance on CNN on Tuesday, the horrible Chaffetz was being challenged on House Republicans’ newly released proposed health care bill, the American Health Care Act.
Host Alisyn Camerota argued that accessibility to health care doesn’t make it affordable, to which the horrible Chaffetz replied: “So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves.”
Umm, da fuq?
What is wrong with this bizarre-ass GOP?
Do they really believe that poor people are out here buying iPhones instead of taking care of their health? Also, why are the rich GOP so fucking upset with iPhones? What did an iPhone ever do to anyone? I mean, sure, the service is spotty and sometimes I shoot confetti randomly in my text messages, but wanting and/or having an iPhone isn’t bad, and it’s OK for those on the tough end of the socioeconomic spectrum to both save up to buy an iPhone and want affordable health care. That isn’t a crazy wish to ask from today’s politicians.
If the plan unveiled by House Republicans remains, it will offer less financial assistance to low-income people than former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the Huffington Post reports, meaning that millions of Americans who have health care coverage now would lose their coverage completely.
But let’s talk about smartphones.
For most low-income folks, smartphones are lifelines to the information highway. I know this is difficult for the horrible Chaffetz to comprehend, but most families among the nation’s poor, who were identified in a PEW Research Center study as those whose household income is less than $30,000 a year, don’t have access to high-speed broadband at home. This increases the digital divide between the haves and the have-nots, not that horrible Chaffetz gives a shit. So smartphones serve as lifelines to help with homework, look up job information or, I don’t know, fucking survive.
“The connections to online resources that smartphones facilitate are often most tenuous for those users who rely on those connections the most,” said Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, told CNBC.
But what would Chaffetz know about giving up a digital lifeline to pay for health care? As the Huffington Post notes, he enjoys the comforts of the comprehensive health care that is afforded to all members of Congress.
Horrible Chaffetz tried to clean up his comments later on fake Fox News, HuffPost reports:
“What we’re trying to say—and maybe I didn’t say it as smoothly as I possibly could—but people need to make a conscious choice, and I believe in self-reliance,” he said. “They’re going to have to make those decisions.”
“We want them to have their communication equipment too, but it’s frustrating,” he added.
But one illuminating point that horrible Chaffetz’s dumb-ass comment did showcase is that many Republicans—and, I’d argue, many other Americans—still subscribe to the mythological notion that poverty is merely a series of irresponsible choices. My guess is that framing poverty in this light—that a huge chunk of Americans live in abject poverty because of their choices—helps lawmaking white folks sleep well at night.
Or, as Philip Bump wrote for the Washington Post:
There’s a psychological reward to looking for reasons that the poor aren’t really poor: It allows you to then more easily leave those less fortunate to their fate. For those disinclined to want the government to spend resources addressing poverty, the same reward is in effect. Drug-testing welfare recipients, stories about those on food stamps splurging on high-cost items, even reports from the Heritage Foundation pointing out that most poor people own televisions—all have the same net effect. To some extent, the poor are responsible for their own poverty, and therefore, it’s less urgent or unnecessary for us to be.
But this is the trickle-down effect of Donald Trump’s White House and his insistence on undoing Barack Obama’s legacy. He made it his goal to tear down the Affordable Care Act even if that was at the expense of the poorest people in the country, and that becomes easier to swallow if you can convince yourself that it’s their fault that they are poor; that they chose the one-time purchase of an iPhone over the recurring drain that is Trump’s new health care plan.