Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called the frightful fail of a health care bill the GOP has proposed an “act of mercy.” That description is repugnant to anyone that grasps what mercy is. A plan that will hurt the poor, heap benefit on the rich and corporations, kill millions of jobs and end the Medicaid expansion in 2020 is not merciful. Congressman Joe Kennedy III shredded that nonsense in an impassioned commentary which he posted to Facebook on Wednesday. You need to hear it.
First, as a reminder to all the Republicans in the room, “mercy” doesn’t mean what Ryan thinks it means.
Mercy, according to google, means “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” In this case, the Republican Congress had a chance to show compassion to the poor, and they have the ability also to harm them. They opted to give the rich the greatest benefits, and tell the poor they would need to make sacrifices to have healthcare; yes, the most vulnerable, the least able to absorb new costs must sacrifice more of what they don’t have to get less health care.
Access to health care is not health care. We all have access to Cristal Champagne and Valentino clothing, we all have access to Lamborghinis, and even access to world travel. Access does not mean we will ever have any of those things because access doesn’t mean we can afford them. They are luxuries, and when you are living with the fear of a serious cold rendering you homeless, paycheck to paycheck, luxuries fall by the wayside.
That is what Congress means when they say they want all Americans to have “access to healthcare.” That is why Jason Chaffetz said that low-income people will have to sacrifice “a new iPhone” to get healthcare. Requiring that those in poverty give up even more, while corporations and insurance companies get the windfall of their sacrifice and people die because there is no more they can give up to be allowed care to live is not mercy. It is, in a word, malice.
Malice, while the GOP wears the cloak of “Christian” charity and superiority. Religion has no place in our government, but when one professes to be merciful and a Christian, one can be measured by the guidelines one claims for themselves. Kennedy’s pointed, moving rebuttal was callously cut off for time — probably because his visible emotion slowed its delivery — but he got it all in. Job losses, pain, sacrifice, and fear for the vulnerable, aid and extra benefits for the rich and comfortable. Sounds par for the course for Republicans.
Watch Joe Kennedy’s moving statement, here:
“I was struck last night by a comment that I heard made by Speaker Ryan, where he called this repeal bill ‘an act of mercy.’ With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different Scripture,” Kennedy said as the House Energy and Commerce Committee dove into the details of the GOP effort … The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. it reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful but by how we care for the least among us. Mercy.
Mercy. Defined in purely secular terms, compassionate treatment for people in distress. It’s kindness, it is grace.
There is is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury.
There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering.
There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill.
There is no mercy in a policy that takes for granted the sweat the tears and the sacrifice of working Americans that they shed every day so that they might care for their family’s basic needs; food, shelter health, and hope for tomorrow.
There is no mercy for the 2.6 million people who will lose their jobs if Obamacare is repealed.
This is not an ‘act of mercy.’ It is an act of malice.”
Featured image via screen capture