Have You No Decency, Sir?
Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?
Joseph Welch (Counsel for the U.S. Army) to Senator Joseph McCarthy,
Army/McCarthy hearings, 1954
This is a question we might well ask of Republican legislators in recent days. The roll out of the Republican “replacement” plan for Obamacare has generated discussion by Republicans that reveals a core value for many in the House and Senate: take benefits away from middle class and poor people while giving the wealthy tax breaks. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Roger Marshall of Kansas --- both Republican House members --- have said out loud what many of us believe are common beliefs for a significant number of those in the GOP. The “repeal and replace” dust up over Obamacare has revealed some of the core values the Republican members of the House (and Senate?) have tried to camouflage with political rhetoric. But, as so often happens, even to those not named Trump, the truth will out and that real value system of ugly, un-Christian prejudices surfaces, revealing the hypocrisy and mendacity of these politicians.
As reported by Philip Bump in the March 7th Washington Post, Chaffetz stated: “Americans have choices. And they’ve got to make a choice. So maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest that in health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves.” Before further scrutinizing Chaffetz’s statement, consider what else Bump reported:
Interestingly, the first part of Chaffetz’s claim was undercut by new polling from CNN itself. With its polling partner ORC, the network found that Americans are split on the mandate that individuals have health coverage. Fifty percent oppose the stipulation and 48 percent favor it. Even 45 percent of Republicans support keeping the mandate, which makes some sense given that that aspect of what we now call Obamacare evolved from a conservative proposal.
While Chaffetz “believes” he is speaking out for Republicans and conservatives, he has clearly not checked where the pulse of his electorate is lately and remains wedded to his doctrinaire, unquestioning political belief system. Continuing, Bump reports:
There are a lot of problems with the choice that Chaffetz presents. For one, an iPhone can be a one-time cost, while health-care spending is recurring. For another, the cost of a new phone pales in comparison to the cost of health care or health insurance. He intentionally uses “iPhone” instead of cell phone, since a new, unsubsidized iPhone is at the pricier end of the cell phone cost scale, at about $700. But a year of health insurance for an individual is over $6,000. Put another way, an iPhone is only slightly more than a month of insurance. And that gap has increased. In 2014, the New York Times pointed out that costs for consumer goods had decreased over time, while costs for things like health care have risen.
So, Chaffetz reveals his insensitivity to those who may genuinely need healthcare subsidies while using an old trope symbolizing the fecklessness of the lower classes (i.e., non-white, poor). When asked by Fox News to clarify his statement:
“Chaffetz made the implicit argument explicit. ‘People need to make a conscious choice and I believe in self-reliance.’” (Washington Post)
Even if you live in a home without a computer and need that Smartphone so your kids can do their homework, you should forego such an extravagance if you also need healthcare, according to Congressman Chaffetz.
“Have you no decency, sir?”
While Chaffetz’s comments are unsettling, Representative Roger Marshall (R-KS), as reported by Brian Lowry in the March 8th Kansas City Star said this:
“Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us. …’ There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”
“Just, like, homeless people. … I think just morally, spiritually, socially, (some people) just don’t want health care. The Medicaid population, which is (on) a free credit card, as a group, do probably the least preventive medicine and taking care of themselves and eating healthy and exercising.
“And I’m not judging, I’m just saying socially that’s where they are. So there’s a group of people that even with unlimited access to health care are only going to use the emergency room when their arm is chopped off or when their pneumonia is so bad they get brought (into) the ER.”
There are a number of disturbing elements to this statement, of course. First and foremost is the fact that Marshall is an obstetrician --- a doctor! So much for “do no harm” and the milk of human kindness. The pure perversion, the twisting of the Gospels of Jesus Christ, however, is the height of hypocrisy! To seemingly justify denying poor people benefits because Jesus said “The poor will always be with us” is disgraceful.
One also has to wonder how many “homeless” and/or “poor” people Representative Marshall even knows. Like the great Republican icon who invented “welfare queens,” Dr. Marshall (like Chaffetz) simply spews out classic, hackneyed stereotypes to justify depriving people of benefits they need. Like the current occupant of the White House, Representative Marshall claims there are a “group of people” who will not even use their benefits --- without providing any evidence, documents, or statistics to prove his claim.
“Have you no decency, sir?”
This is where we are with the “repeal and replace” crowd. We are going to see a great deal of infighting, wrangling, and wheeling-dealing in the next few months as the Republicans attempt to dig themselves out of their “repeal and replace” hole. After spending six or more years claiming they could “do better,” it is now time to put up or shut up --- and we’ve discovered that, just like Trump’s “secret plan to defeat ISIS", there is no “there,” “there.” We will continue to hear rhetoric that blames the potential victims of their crass plan, claiming the poor have chosen to be poor and are not “self-reliant” enough to deserve decent healthcare.
"Have you no decency, sir?"
And then, of course, there’s the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson. His inspiring opening speech to his charges, broadcast to HUD employees across the country, was a real piece of work. While the Republican legislators lead us to ask “Have you no decency, sir?” Secretary Carson’s speech leads us to ask, “Have you no reality, sir?”