In the June 5 article “GOP Splitting in Pa. House Over Medicaid,” I was disturbed to read Rep. Brad Roae’s (R-Crawford) comment that “Obamacare is probably one of the worst things that has ever happened to this country.” Looking back into our nation’s past, one might be able to think of one or two things we may collectively consider worse. Remember child labor? Slavery? Jim Crow? Millions killed in war? The Great Depression? 9/11? Hurricane Katrina?
And while we’re at it, looking into our present might drum up a few “worsts” as well. In my work, I hear stories every day, all over the country, about working class families’ realities. People who work in unsafe conditions and are afraid to speak up, or face discrimination at work for any number of reasons, or whose only wish is to find a job, or who work hard every day and still can’t pay the bills. All this in an America that, despite our challenges, is full of abundance. Of course, many of us don’t know of this abundance anymore, since 10 percent of Americans hang onto 70 percent of the country’s wealth, leaving the majority of us to squabble over the scraps.
These realities seem to be the real “worst things” that are happening in our country. Rep. Roae’s comments reflect the wrongheaded, ideologically blinded kind of rhetoric that is, to many of us, among the “worst things” happening in this country.
The writer is national mobilization director for Working America, the AFL-CIO community affiliate for workers without a union on the job (workingamerica.org).