Former President Barack Obama took to his official Facebook page Thursday to criticize the Senate health care bill released Thursday, calling it “a massive transfer of wealth” to “the richest people in America,” and asking the Senate to “take a step back and measure what’s really at stake.”
“Our politics are divided,” Obama wrote. “They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.”
Calling it what it is, Obama wrote that “repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party.” He said that senators need to take a step back and measure what’s really at stake, because the rationale for action on health care or any other issue “must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.”
And he’s right. Everything about this administration has been one long middle finger to everything the Obama administration put in place. The slow undoing of anything worthwhile in our government and public policies has been horrifying to watch. Our current president is the old-man embodiment of Regina George, and his entire administration is the Plastics, working their hardest to make everyone else in America miserable while they strut around patting themselves on the back for getting the job undone.
We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain—we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.
He also notes that for the first time in history, more than 90 percent of Americans know the security of health care, and while health care costs continue to rise, they have been rising at the slowest pace in 50 years.
Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition—we made that a thing of the past.
Obama reiterates his previous point that while the Affordable Care Act was a significant step forward for America, “it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts,” and that if “Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost,” he would gladly and publicly support it.
And since today’s big reveal shows that has not happened, Obama said that he hopes Republicans in Congress will remember that public service is not a gigantic pissing contest, or a dick-measuring one, and they should get down to the business of doing what’s right for the American people.
OK, he didn’t use those words. He said that “public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.” Same difference.
But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.
The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.
He rightly points out that if you get sick or start a family, this bill will harm you, and “small tweaks over the course of the next couple of weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”
The bill is indeed mean. It matches the ugly, classist, ageist and racist tone of everything else that is happening under the current administration. The poor will suffer unnecessarily. The elderly will suffer unnecessarily. People of color will suffer unnecessarily. And for what? To prove that you can undo what the previous president did for no other reason than to show that your staff is bigger?
To put the American people through that pain—while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return—that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.
That’s not likely to happen, because simply put, this administration does not care about the American people.
Obama delivers a call to action, imploring the American people to reach out to their representatives (something we should all be doing daily until this stops) and let them know what this means for American families.
After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country—who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.
Sorry, President Obama. It would appear that your replacement has turned the character of this country into a cartoon, and that is not likely to change until he and all his minions are thrown out on their asses.