If one takes seriously the wild characterizations of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that have appeared in the media since last week, the Republicans have transformed the House of Representatives from a branch of the national legislature into a veritable abattoir. The GOP is not merely guilty of “consigning thousands of people with serious illnesses to death,” as one erstwhile news outlet put it, “the Republicans are taking health services away from disabled children, women who give birth, and survivors of rape and sexual assault.” And what has motivated the GOP to wreak such carnage? Why, racism, of course.
This should not, I suppose, come as a surprise. As soon as the deciding vote was cast on the Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill on Thursday afternoon, this hoary hobgoblin was heading our way with the grim inevitability of Greek tragedy. But the sheer absurdity of the charge is so profound that it was at least possible to hope against hope that even the ridiculous poseurs of the “Trump Resistance Movement” would be too embarrassed to trot it out pursuant to the partial repeal of a law that has done so much harm to people of all colors. In the publication noted above, the Boston Globe to be precise, the claim is phrased as follows:
Studies conducted after the election confirm that racial resentment directed toward people of color predicted overall support for Trump.… So the naked truth is that racial resentment directed toward Obama set off a chain of events that will likely cause 20 million people to lose their health insurance and ignite a public health crisis of unimaginable consequence.
The word “studies” in this passage comes with a link that purports to take the reader to the research upon which the “racial resentment” claim is based. Oddly enough, the link is a dud that provides the inquiring mind with this message: “Oops. That page can’t be found.” Presumably, this means that the page was taken down — as sometimes happens with hoax studies — or the Globe’s editors have again exercised the highly developed skills that forced the owners of their publication to sell it in 2013 at a 96 percent loss. The author of the piece, Michael P. Jeffries, offers no other evidence that racism had anything to do with AHCA.
But Jeffries is by no means the only commentator who has insinuated that there is racism at work in the passage of AHCA. Obama’s last Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Andrew Slavitt, is somewhat more subtle than Jeffries in that he merely uses the language of racial grievance to describe the GOP bill. He writes in USA Today that AHCA codifies “discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions” and that they would be “segregated into a high-risk pool.” Slavitt’s claims have no basis in fact, of course. But, then again, we’re dealing with a man who lied under oath to Congress.
The beat goes on at the Atlantic where Vann Newkirk goes through the usual litany of damage that will be done to all manner of people by the evil Republican health care bill, prominently featuring Trump voters. He then treats his readers to a semi-coherent portrayal of pre-Obamacare America in which “a religious philosophy mostly pioneered by wealthy televangelists” somehow shaped our medical delivery system. Newkirk eventually works his way to his inevitable destination, where he uses a hopelessly tendentious history of American health care to insinuate that AHCA will take us back to the bad old days when racism drove the system:
[A]s Jim Downs’s book Sick from Freedom chronicles, the original exclusion of free black people from the American health-care system — indeed one of the most enduring features of the country’s health policy — was animated both by common racism and a belief that the immense burden of sickness among freedmen was a curse for their immorality.
It goes without saying that the racism theme is popular with people who earn their keep by telling “jokes” to smug progressives. The Independent Journal Review reports that Wanda Sykes went on “The View” to denounce AHCA as an example of bigotry: “Sykes called the bill ‘awful’ and claimed … ‘It’s racism. That’s it. They hate having a black president, and they want to get rid of it.’” This hilarious stuff was echoed by Iliza Shlesinger, who no doubt subjected the bill to a close reading: “Obamacare was gutted because Trump and his constituents couldn’t stand that a black man was in their White House. It is that black and white.”
Thus, we have a consensus: Partisan academics, biased journalists, unemployed Obama administration hacks, and clueless comediennes agree that there can be but one reason to repeal Obamacare — and it has nothing to do with the failure of the “reform” law to accomplish any of its ostensible goals. It’s all about racism. This is certainly not the only spurious pretext concocted by the left to denounce AHCA, but it is easily the most asinine.
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