Following an article by Vox featuring eight awkward interviews with GOP senators struggling to answer pretty basic questions about their health care lsl, former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had some words for Republicans on Sunday’s Face the Nation.
Calling the secrecy surrounding the writing of the bill “unacceptable,” Sanders said, “I believe it is 10 Republicans working behind closed doors to address one sixth of the American economy. That’s what health care is. Republicans. The average Republican doesn’t even know what’s in that legislation.”
“Nobody can defend a process which will impact tens of millions of Americans and nobody even knows what’s in the legislation,” he continued. “Who is going to defend cutting Medicaid by $800 billion at the same time as you give massive tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent? So they want to keep it secret. They don’t want the media involved. They don’t want members of Congress involved. And in the last minute, they present it. They push it through.”
Since last week, Democratic lawmakers have been vocal about their outrage with lack of transparency from the bill’s 13 writers. And it’s not even just Democrats who are upset about how things are being handled. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida had some words on Sunday’s Face the Nation, too.
“The Senate is not a place where you can just cook up something behind closed doors and rush it for a vote on the floor,” he said, calling on his colleagues to be more transparent.
And while criticism of Democrats for blasting secretive maneuvering that they previously employed some seven years ago to pass the Affordable Care Act may be valid on some level, Sanders did a good job highlighting some stark differences in circumstances.
While Obamacare has been proven to expand access to health care for millions of low-income, infirm and older Americans, and, altogether raised the national standard of living across the board, as Sanders points out, the American Health Care Act will not only cut Medicaid by some $800 billion but will also strip roughly 23 million Americans of health insurance.
Republican lawmakers might have their own justifications for the bill — to Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, it will “encourage more freedom,” “cut taxes,” and “inject some competition,” he told Vox.
But in simple and straightforward terms, it’s pretty difficult to explain to the lay person at home why they could be losing their insurance, why being a survivor of sexual assault or suffering from depression and other mental illnesses could soon allow them to be discriminated against, why their sick children could soon be getting a whole lot sicker while America’s millionaires and billionaires look forward to massive tax breaks.
Yes, Republicans have their reasons for creating this bill (granted, reasons that don’t exactly resonate with the vast majority of Americans), just as they have their reasons for being secretive about it. And Sanders is absolutely right about those reasons — because they’re incapable of looking their constituents in the eye and giving them the bad news.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.