Why are the President and most Republicans in Congress trying to steal our health care? Who benefits from their theft? Are we disposable people in their view?
About a month ago, House Republicans passed a healthcare bill. A few days later, the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the bill would take away health insurance from 22 million people covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare). A couple of weeks ago, Senate Republicans passed their own version of the bill, which, according to the CBO, would take health insurance away from 24 million people. Last week, the President announced his own plan. It is even more draconian and would drop 32 million people from health coverage, according to the CBO.
They claim their goal is to reduce the cost of health care to the federal government by about one trillion dollars over the next decade. However, there is another way of looking at what they want to do. The Republicans also want to lower the maximum federal income tax rate. This does not have much impact on people earning $60,000 or less a year, but it dramatically cuts the taxes owed by individuals earning a million or more per year. The government savings from cutting health care would replace the money it loses by lowering the tax rate. In other words, it is a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor and working classes to the wealthiest Americans. It increases income disparities that already exist.
While federal, state, and municipal laws facilitating upward income redistribution have existed for more than a century, changes in the 1970s intensified the process. Corporations and their lobbyists promoted the new legislation. Companies, which had paid some attention to the welfare of their workers, shifted their focus to maximizing profits for their shareholders. Health care and retirement plans were reduced or eliminated altogether, as the costs were steadily downloaded on individuals. Both federal and state governments slashed the social safety network—health, education, social services, and social security.
Since the 1970s, the primary beneficiaries of these cuts have been multinational companies in the finance, insurance, real estate, energy and defense sectors of the US economy. While the federal government bailed out banks and insurance companies in the wake of the economic crisis of 2007, it did almost nothing to help families that invested their life-savings and futures in homes and lost them to foreclosure.
There was a small conference in the mid-1990s. The participants were diverse and came from many parts of the world—Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and minority communities in the United States. As they discussed assistance policies adopted by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and US government, they coined the term “disposable peoples” to describe what was happening. The idea takes on new meaning given the voter suppression legislation passed in many states, and the grinding poverty and inequalities that prevail in many cities, including those in the Inland Empire.