Health care activist Laura Packard (Erik Gunn | Wisconsin Examiner)
I’m going coast to coast on a bus trip this spring, telling my personal story with Courage for America. We’re calling on extreme members of the Republican House majority — including Rep. Derrick Van Orden — to sign a promise to protect the essential benefits Americans rely on. Our message to MAGA Republicans who are acting without concern for the lives and livelihoods of the people they represent: stop playing dangerous political games with the budget default crisis.
The cruel politics of many of these extreme members of Congress is not new to me. I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in spring of 2017, our first year under the Trump administration. The day after my first chemotherapy appointment, Republicans in the U.S. House voted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act– the insurance that was keeping me alive.
Before the ACA, I used to have junk insurance. Without it, today I’d be bankrupt or dead. If extremist Republicans succeed in dismantling and defunding it, I’d be uninsurable. I’m one of millions of Americans whose lives depend on these bedrock programs now under attack.
Under Speaker Paul Ryan, they thirsted to repeal our health care in order to shower billionaires with big tax cuts. And now under Speaker Kevin McCarthy, militant members of the House majority want to defund all of the programs our families depend on.
With the debt ceiling fight intensifying, House Republicans, including Rep. Van Orden are risking a major global economic crisis. They’re putting our livelihoods at risk by refusing to pay our national bills unless their dangerous demands are met.
They’re doing so to score political points against President Biden, and enact deep cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and more — something 7 in 10 Americans are concerned about.
My mom relies on Medicare and Social Security. Someday, l hope to benefit from these programs, too. Everyone knows someone who lives on their Social Security checks. What happens when those checks are reduced, or stop coming at all?
But three-quarters of House Republicans belong to the Republican Study Committee, which has proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The committee’s “Blueprint to Save America” would raise the ages of eligibility for both programs, and turn Medicare into a means-tested voucher program.
House Republicans have also called for creating special panels to consider cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Cuts that would affect my family, and yours too.
In fact, Rep. Van Orden introduced legislation that would lead to deep cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and is opposed by the AARP and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare. And he supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which would strip health coverage from more than 200,000 Wisconsinites and could jeopardize access to affordable care for millions in Wisconsin.
We’re now nearly 100 days into McCarthy’s tenure as Speaker, and the radical right-wing House majority continues to push their deeply unpopular and dangerous agenda.
If we follow these extreme Republican representatives down this path, the next 100 days of the MAGA agenda will lead our economy right off a cliff.
We’ve never felt the consequences of defaulting on our national debt before, because we’ve never reached this point as a nation before.
The impacts of an economic default are known– once the debt ceiling is reached this summer, the government’s ability to pay its bills will expire. And millions of people will lose access to benefits that they rely on to get by.
This hyperpartisan blackmail from fanatical MAGA Republicans is over whether the United States pays the bills we’ve already accrued. They’re saying we must cut the programs millions of Americans rely on, or else they will break our economy– and potentially the world’s economy. Will their reckless brinksmanship trigger a global depression?
We came to La Crosse to ask Rep. Van Orden a final time to make a promise to his constituents: protect our hard-earned benefits and stop playing politics with our livelihoods. He didn’t show up.
Laura Packard is a stage 4 cancer survivor and health care advocate, and executive director of Health Care Voter. She hosts CareTalk, a weekly consumer call-in show and podcast on health care and health insurance issues in America on Mondays at 4:30pm ET. Follow @lpackard on Twitter.
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