November 28, 2012

The GOP's disdain for the poor

I almost titled this, "the GOP's war on poor people," but decided that we are using the phrase "war on" far too many times to indicate something where people are not shot with guns or drones.  War is something else.

But the fact does remain, that the GOP continues to make life harder on the poor.  Here in Oklahoma, our Governor Fallin joins other Republican governors in rejecting both the expansion of Medicaid and the option to create a state healthcare exchange.  Both appear to be more about their ongoing battle with Obama and less to do with any heart-felt principled belief.  For all the talk about "unfunded mandates," both of these programs could be funded, and would have allowed thousands of Oklahomans access to healthcare.

I understand (though do not share) the argument that people must be required to try to work in order to get public assistance.  For me, I don't care if the person is drug addled or stupid or lazy or craven.  Their access to the basics of life are disconnected from whether or not I like or respect them.  But I get the idea that people might be discouraged from working if they can get food stamps or public assistance (even though the SNAP program is designed to push people off food stamps and discourage dependency).

But I do not understand this in the context of healthcare.  We spent last evening at a film premier for a local autism group, and came away quite impressed with the art and the autistic individuals.  But we also noted that most of them will need assistance and healthcare--that they will probably not be able to afford for most of their life.  Effort isn't an issue here.  Nor is it with most of those effected by Governor Fallin's decision.  This will disallow access to care for a lot of Oklahomans who work at jobs that pay too little or offer too few hours to qualify for benefits.

As Jon Stewart put it, we are seeing more and more rich Republicans try to disconnect from the social contract and just allow people at the bottom to fall.  Walmart pays their employees so little that most of them end up using food stamps or Medicaid--all while Walmart lobbies for Republican efforts to dismantle that very same safety net.  At that film premier last night, we noticed a lot of Republican voters who will benefit from Obama's policies for their children, but who (in most likelihood) voted for Romney's promise to repeal those same policies.

We are once again in the place where those who shout "Jesus" the loudest are working the hardest to make life harder on the poor and the sick.  And while I am no longer surprised by this, it still makes me sad.

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