The number is so large, it is difficult to truly comprehend. Measured in people: the population of Los Angeles ― times seven. In steps: the amount you’ll take over the next 13 years.
And measured in tragedy, 24 million is how many Americans — human beings with spouses and parents, children and dreams — will have health care ripped away if Republicans get their wish.
On May 4, 217 House Republicans, including 14 from California (we’ll get to them in a moment) voted to put 24 million American lives at risk. If the AHCA passes the Senate and receives the president’s signature, everyday Americans from Modesto to Maine will go broke trying to keep their families healthy. Millions will suffer. Many will die.
And do you know what those House Republicans reportedly did once they’d voted?
They cheered. They drank beer. They threw a party.
Among the revelers were the California 14, toasting their votes to shove as many as 5 million people in our state alone to within one unlucky virus, or car accident, or broken arm of financial calamity.
How could this happen? How could representatives sworn to represent the best interests of our state put so many of their neighbors’ lives at risk?
How could David Valadao (CA-21), who represents a district where an estimated 48,000 Medicaid recipients will lose coverage, vote to slice and dice the amount of support given to struggling Californians who live just above the poverty line?
How could Darrell Issa (CA-49) and Mimi Walters (CA-45), whose districts include Camp Pendleton Marine Base and Orange County, home to over 160,000 military veterans, vote to allow insurers to raise people’s rates, or deny them coverage altogether, because they suffer from a pre-existing condition like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)?
How could Jeff Denham (CA-10), who represents a county (Stanislaus) where the amount of Californians age 65+ has risen by 22 percent in just five years, vote to allow insurance companies to change older Americans many times more money, guaranteeing fewer seniors have health insurance?
How could Steve Knight (CA-25), Ed Royce (CA-39) and Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), all from districts that backed Hillary Clinton, vote for such an inhumane, regressive policy that Californians oppose in large margins?
How could the California Fourteen be so cavalier with their neighbors’ well being?
I’ll tell you: they want to give the richest among us a tax break. That’s right. This appalling, savage attack on the well-being of so many is funded by a $600 million tax break for the richest of the rich ― those who need our help the least.
Twenty four million lives at risk so the top 1 percent can finally afford to build another room on that summer house up the coast.
Sad. But true.
Our state deserves better. And you’d better believe that when the California Fourteen comes up for re-election in 2018... we’re going to make sure we get it.