“I have a job and I have health insurance,” Representative Hultgren (R IL-14) said, and then paused for a moment proudly emphasizing the Republican spin talking point that when one has a job, one automatically has health insurance. It’s as if life is that simple. If you work, the spin goes, you have insurance. He was attempting to say that if we have jobs, we don’t need a national health insurance plan. We don’t need “Obamacare.”
The subtle part of this ‘argument’ is that not only is it flawed logically, it blames the victim. If you don’t have insurance, it’s because you don’t have a job. A job will furnish good insurance. And if you don’t have a job, it’s because you’re either not looking, or—to serve the Republican spin even further—it’s because Obama won’t do what the Republicans want so people can have jobs. So therefore, we can all blame Obama.
But this time his audience at the Oswego Town Hall meeting was not buying it as I noticed they have in the past. No one applauded. No one said, “Yeah!” There was silence as Hultgren paused and looked around for support he did not get.
The woman who was next in line to question Hultgren said, “Well, that may be true for you, but it’s not true for everybody. My daughter has a job and she does not have health insurance.”
Hultgren started to open his mouth to make a comment when she added, “The company she works for will let her work only thirty hours a week at $10 an hour. It does not provide health insurance for part-time employees.”
“We surely do not want bureaucratic healthcare. Trust me on this one.” Hultgren said.
But it didn’t look like people were trusting him on that one. Several blurted out, “We already have bureaucratic health insurance with insurance companies!”
Hultgren said that health insurance rates have climbed since ‘Obamacare’ went into effect. But the woman countered with the fact that rates were rising long before the Affordable Care Act was passed. And in fact, she said, a provision in effect now gives people rebates if the insurance company does not spend at least 80% of its yearly intake on claims. And indeed, millions of people are at this moment receiving checks in the mail from their insurance carriers.
Perhaps Hultgren’s financial and insurance industry supporters are not happy with that provision? (See some of his campaign donors in here.)
“Do you think Senator Kirk will have to have a garage sale to pay for his healthcare?” David Edelman from the audience asked, holding up a very large poster with many announcements requesting people come to fundraisers and sales to help pay for peoples’ healthcare.
“Senator Kirk has Blue Cross/Blue Shield, doesn’t he? Edelman asked.
“Yes, Hultgren responded, “same as me.”
Noting that was really good medical insurance, Edelman said, “How can you accept federal health insurance for you and your family and deny it to others?” Edelmen asked, pointing to the poster with many, many announcements requesting help.
“Those people probably don’t have jobs,” Hultgren responded.
“No,” Edelmen said. Adding that the announcements were from regular Americans. Most of the people requesting help had jobs but had insurance that had run out. Many requests were from parents for their sick children.
“Does this bother you when you see this?” Edelman asked.
“We surely don’t want bureaucratic healthcare. You can trust me on this one,” was Hultgren’s only response.
It was the second time he had asked the audience to trust him on this issue. And it appeared for the second time the audience disregarded what he tried to offer as his knowledge of issues facing real day-to-day Americans.
“This is an American issue,” Edelman concluded.
Hultgren could offer no solutions. He could only offer objections.
“If the federal health insurance is such an awful bureaucratic thing, why didn’t he keep his own health insurance from his family business?” one elderly man walking with a cane wondered after the meeting.
“He seemed so detached and unfeeling,” one woman observed, adding, “His voice was just so syrupy sweet he appeared unbelievable and unconcerned.”
“I just don’t know what planet he lives on,” another commented.
At Oswego’s town hall meeting, Hultgren did his best to conform to his party’s prescribed spin. But most of the people in attendance were not buying the Republican groupthink he was pushing.
The image of the man holding the poster with pictures of many, many people needing help for their or their children’s medical care stood out in sharp contrast to Hultgren’s syrupy voice claiming, “You don’t want bureaucratic insurance, trust me on this,” and the other man’s response, “Does this bother you when you see this?”