After the Republican House voted to defund the Affordable Care Act yesterday, Eric Cantor and his gleeful caucus threw a little party, described by David Firestone of the New York Times Editor's blog as "ghoulish:"
There was something ghoulish about the rally that House Republicans held today in the Rayburn Room after they voted to defund health care reform. The party atmosphere was so boisterous, the cheers and laughter so loud, that it was easy to forget everyone in the room had just voted to keep tens of millions of people from getting health insurance.The Daily Caller called the Republican rally a rare display of unity.
Amid all the chortling and backslapping it was also easy to overlook the fact that the Republican ghouls were literally laughing over the graves of their own constituents:
The vast majority of healthcare reform is funded through what is known as mandatory spending that is not necessarily affected by the continuing budget resolution now at issue in Congress. If the government shuts down, the only aspect of Obamacare that will be defunded is the portion that is covered through discretionary spending. Affordable Care Act discretionary spending includes funding for community health centers, preventative health programs, school-based health clinics for children, rural and Indian health centers, doctor and nurse training grants, among other programs—spending that overwhelmingly benefit rural Republican districts in many states.These are the same programs that the same Republican Congressman have gone on record as praising and for which they've eagerly sought out photo-ops. Lee Fang of The Nation provides four examples of this hypocrisy, two of which are detailed below (the link also includes the photographs themselves). Fang also authored a column for The Nation in June detailing this GOP pretense, and was responsible for outing Paul Ryan for the same actions last September, prior to the 2012 elections. At that time Fang had obtained, pursuant to FOIA requests, letters linking at least twenty Obamacare-bashing members of the GOP Congress with letters pleading for ACA funds to benefit their constituents.
Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-LA) co-sponsored Representative Tom Grave’s (R-GA) defunding bill, the Defund Obamacare Act of 2013. Although Cassidy has joined Boehner and the party’s far right in a push to shut down Affordable Care Act discretionary spending programs, he wrote a letter to the administration asking for more discretionary spending on federal health centers. In addition, he appeared at a ribbon-cutting event—where Cassidy held a ceremonial pair of scissors—for an Obamacare-funded school-based health clinic, where he made an emotional appeal about the importance of helping children stay healthy while earning an education.Others have deliberately linked themselves to the benefits provided by the ACA:
Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) helped sponsor Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) bill to defund healthcare reform. While Moran has attacked the law and called it a failure, he proudly appeared at a publicity event to promote the groundbreaking of a $4.7 million expansion of the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas last August. At the event, where Moran held a ceremonial shovel, the senator heaped praise the community center for helping provide comprehensive care, noting “even the most conservative politician…ought to be in favor of community health centers.”Funding for the expanded Health Center touted by Moran came entirely from Obamacare.
Other "ghouls" who simultaneously voted to defund the programs and health centers they praised in front of the cameras include Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and Michael Grimm-(R-NY). All have solicited the political benefits of associating themselves with these programs, and all voted yesterday to defund them, in effect, putting their own constituents' health and lives at greater risk.
“The thing about reading these letters is that they’re well-drafted. If you were to read them as stand-alone, you would say, ‘Gosh, the Affordable Care Act is great,’ not ‘Let’s repeal the bill,’” says Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, a pro-reform advocacy group. Rome points out that Republican lawmakers are not “holding press conferences in front of a community health center saying, ‘I’m here to get this defunded.’” He adds, “Now that would be political courage.”