Obama declares the Senate health care bill, “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America,” and he’s right

Well, after weeks and weeks of secret discussions, Senate Republicans today shared a draft of their their health care bill, which, if passed, would replace Obamacare. Knowing the bill would be unpopular, the White House barred the news media from airing the press conference live. And, in hopes of diverting attention, Trump, at roughly the same time, took to Twitter to announce that, yes, he’d been lying a few weeks back when he’d suggested that he had secret tapes of him and former FBI Director James Comey discussing the Russia investigation. [According to Newt Gingrich, this was just an innocent little “bluff” on the part of Trump, who was, according to the former Speaker of the House, only “trying to rattle Comey.” Or, to put it a little differently, this was an attempt at witness intimidation on the part of the President.] Fortunately, though, the media, at least for the most part, stayed focused on the Senate health care bill, which the AARP was quick to label “harmful”. And with good reason, too. To quote former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, the legislation “raises deductibles, cuts coverage and slashes Medicaid,” all of which are things that the President promised the legislation wouldn’t do. And it hits older Americans particularly hard… According to our friend Charles Gaba, who studies these things, a 60-year-old earning $37,000 would go from paying roughly $3,600 a year for a “silver” plan today, to paying roughly $6,000 for a “bronze” one under the proposed Senate bill. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg… Before we get into details, though, I wanted to share the following letter from former President Barack Obama, which was just posted to social media.

Our politics are divided. 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.

I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.

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.

Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.

And you made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty 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.
We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible.

At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented 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, I would gladly and publicly support it.

That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember 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.

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.

Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.

I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?

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 might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible – if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.

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.

[And, yes, kids, that’s what real presidents used to sound like.]

Make no mistake, this Republican bill was not drafted with any thought as to what the American people wanted or needed. It was drafted with one question in mind – “What can we get away with?” And we cannot allow the Republicans in the Senate to get away with it. We need to draw attention to this legislation, and let people know how it will likely affect their families. Here, with that in mind, are a few specific examples from Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

This Republican bill, says Casey, will decimate Medicaid:

And end protections for pre-existing conditions:

And raise deductibles:

While we still don’t have a CBO score yet, and don’t know exactly how many people would lose their coverage if this bill should become law, we know already that a lot of people will be hurt. And why? To cut taxes on the wealthy.

Again, this has nothing to do with what the American people want, need or deserve, and everything to do with a desire on the part of Republicans to make good on their promises to members of the donor class – the wealthy individuals whose financial contributions keep them in office. [This is another great reminder of why we need to get the money out of American politics, but, for the time being, we need to focus on killing this bill.] Fortunately, people are beginning to take notice. Organizations like the AARP are informing their members, and people are beginning to engage in civil disobedience… Speaking of which, 43 were arrested during a protests outside Mitch McConnell’s Senate office this afternoon, many of whom were pulled from their wheelchairs and dragged out of the building. Here, if you missed it, is a little of the documentation.

This is America in 2017. This is what we’ve become. This is what we have to end, not just for ourselves, but for future generations. Spread the word. And shut down the Senate switchboard.

[The photo at the top of the post was taken in the White House rose garden after the House version of Trumpcare was passed. Trump later would say that the legislation, which, according to CBO estimates, would rob 23 million Americans of their health care, was “mean.” He then urged the Senate to do something better. And, by all accounts, they did not.]

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  1. Posted June 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    After celebrating the House bill in the Rose Garden, Trump said it was “mean,” charging the Senate to do better. They didn’t. As Obama said in his letter above, this isn’t a health care bill. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.” If you can’t protest int he streets, at least call your Senators and urge them to do whatever they can to kill this bill.

  2. Posted June 22, 2017 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Look up the phone numbers for your Senators here.

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    some detail here: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/06/22/533942041/who-wins-who-loses-with-senate-health-care-bill

    My best friend growing is a lobbyist/advocate for disabilities rights and up was part of the ADAPT protest. They succeeded in getting much needed media attention. I’m just super proud of her and all of them today. That community was ready to respond.

    Today is the anniversary of the SCOTUS Olmstead decision that required public spaces to be inclusive to people with disabilities and allow them to integrate into society.

    We need to do more than call. I hope there will be a huge protest in DC very very soon. they are expected to vote before July 4th. Maybe I should spend the 4th in DC. I hate marches, but fuck it. We have to do something nog and soon.

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Also useful: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/politics/ahca-senate-whip-count/?tid=ss_fb&utm_term=.e13c09d44029

    (sorry for typos above, folks. as always)

  5. Donald Harrison
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Here’s where all the R-Senators currently sit as per NYTimes:

    And a tool to easily find all your FBook friends in states with the most “swayable” R-Senators to encourage them to call, call, call: https://www.trumpcareten.org/ (we can and should too, our calls just won’t count much coming out of state)

    Marches, tweets, emails, faxes, and more. Maybe instead of a sit-in, we all bring a gallon of milk and do a puke-out.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Historically speaking, fascists don’t invest a lot in the health care of the disabled. Quite the contrary.

  7. EOS
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    The disabled have healthcare as well as the truly needy. That is unchanged. A high percentage of families with young children live in poverty while senior citizens, as a whole, are the wealthiest segment of our population. This bill has slight changes from the existing Obama Care, which is unsustainable, and yet does not have a single Democratic supporter. The unwillingness of Democrats to make necessary changes to a broken system has opened the door for the Republicans to go ahead and make more significant changes. It’s not as if they risk losing any Democratic support for the bill. I hope Paul and Cruz are successful in making this bill even better for everyone.

  8. M
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    EOS, Obamacare was set to have record enrollments in January when the GOP started dismantling it. Do your research. It’s not true it was destined for failure, as Trump keeps claiming. It was poisoned.

  9. Iron Lung Larson
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink


  10. EOS
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Record enrollments only because enrollment was mandatory. Many of those that had “healthcare” could not afford to use it due to the high deductibles. The very poor get treatment, but the working poor get screwed. It is unsustainable because the majority of the taxes have yet to be implemented and will cause significant problems if the law is not changed.

  11. John Galt
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    When the rich have more money, they buy more prostitutes and coal, keeping the men and women of America employed.

  12. Andy LaBarre
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Like Mark, I agree. If you live in any of these states call these folks. Make this a pain.

    Rob Portman (OH) 513-684-3265
    Pat Toomey (PA) (412) 803-3501
    Todd Young (IN) 317-226-6700

  13. M
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    As a friend in the business just said, “the only way to stop this is to literally render their phones unworkable with volume of communication.”

  14. M
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Indivisible has some great call scripts, for those of you who have never called your senators before.


  15. Meta
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    The Washington Post has a good piece showing which Republican Senators may be on the fence.


  16. Jean Henry
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    EOS I suggest you review the links I provided as well as the ADAPT web page to take in a different perspective on health care for people with disabilities. State by state they could receive drastic cuts in benefits.

    I’m still unclear on where the bill is on lifetime benefit limits. This bit of the house bill was draconian from a bunch of right to lifers.

    Please tell me, EOS, as a solid pro life person, how you feel about the provision that allows insurance companies to opt out of covering pregnant women in states that offer it?

  17. Adam Schiff‏
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Trumpcare 2.0: Just as mean. Just as dangerous to your health.

    Let your elected representative know how you feel: 202-224-3121.

  18. wobblie
    Posted June 24, 2017 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    Mean while in California the Democrats stand with the Insurance Companies instead of the people

  19. Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis
    Posted June 25, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Kaiser projects *$38,330 premium* for 60-yr-old making $54,791 in rural Alaska for Silver insurance in BCRA/AHCA 4.0.

    ACA premium: $5590.


  20. CNN's Brian Stelter‏
    Posted June 25, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Obama “actually used my term, MEAN. That was my term.” —Trump, on Fox, confirming he called House health care bill “mean” in private mtg

  21. Posted June 25, 2017 at 8:16 am | Permalink

  22. Demetrius
    Posted June 25, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    An excellent NYT piece that spells out how this law – if passed – would actually affect a variety of real Americans.


  23. Jcp2
    Posted June 25, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    The problem with the NYT article is that it is in the NYT. There’s been so much perceived polarization of the media that the people that voted for Trump that would be adversely affected by Trumpcare will just write off this piece.

  24. M
    Posted June 25, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    So, unless Alex Jones screams it, it doesn’t matter? Facts be dammed?

  25. Eel
    Posted June 26, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    It makes absolutely no sense, but Trump is now mad that Obama stole the word “mean” from him.

One Trackback

  1. […] Trump, after celebrating the passage of Trumpcare in the House, as you may recall, was reported to have called the proposed bill “mean”, imploring Republican Senators to improve upon the legislation, ensuring that it had more “heart“. Well, today we saw the result of that effort on the part of Senate Republicans. They took a House bill that would have, according to the CBO, left 23 million Americans without insurance, and they somehow got it to the point where only 22 million Americans would lose their existing coverage. That, I suspect most of you would agree, isn’t really all that less mean. But, then again, that wasn’t really ever the point. What mattered was never what American families needed, but the tax breaks that these cuts would make possible, and, according to the analysis, this Senate bill would put $569 billion back into the pockets of America’s most wealthy… As Obama said a few days ago, this Senate legislation isn’t a health care bill at all, but “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.” […]

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