It seems that House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) is worried that undocumented immigrants are driving up our murder statistics:
SESSIONS: Every day, all along border states, maybe other places, there are murders by people who have been arrested coming into this country, who have been released by the Obama administration, I believe in violation of the law, who are murdering Americans all over our cities.
We hold the Democrat Party and the President accountable for this action.
Of course, surprise, surprise, Sessions is, so to speak, dead wrong. Worse, he’s using what are probably purposely skewed statistics. As Think Progress observes:
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker ranked Sessions’ statistics with four Pinocchios, the highest rating given for inaccurate statements. They found no evidence that undocumented immigrants who benefited from the president’s immigration policies were responsible for the deaths of Americans on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, Sessions approach to the issue – blame the President and the Democratic party – suggests that we need to take a look at who or what is really, verifiably, killing Americans and assign blame accordingly.
Let’s start with the number of poor Americans who will die in those states that have failed to expand Medicaid. A study published early last year puts the number of deaths in Missouri that will result from lack of medical attention at between 218 and 700 people a year. The estimated number of deaths each year in all of the states combined that have opted of Medicaid will fall between 7,115 and 17,104. By Sessions logic, the folks responsible for these deaths will be the Republican lawmakers who refused to hold their nose and endorse a conservative health care reform offered up by a black, Democratic president. How will we hold the GOP contingent in Jefferson City accountable for all those dead Missourians? Who will hold the Republican lawmakers in the other recalcitrant states accountable for what they have done in the service of rampant conservatism run amok?
Then let’s move to the King vs. Burwell Supreme Court challenge to Obamacare itself. If the justices uphold the challenge, the result could be the unraveling of the entire healthcare reform and a return to chaos in the healthcare system. People will lose their healthcare. The result will will be dead Americans:
A brief filed on behalf of multiple public health scholars and the American Public Health Association, estimates that “over 9,800 additional Americans” will die if the justices side with the King plaintiffs. It reaches this conclusion by starting with an Urban Institute study showing that 8.2 million people will become uninsured in this scenario. As other research examining Obamacare-like reforms in the state of Massachusetts found that “for every 830 adults gaining insurance coverage there was one fewer death per year,” that translates to between 9,800 and 9,900 deaths if the justices back the plaintiffs in King.
So using the Sessions rule, who do we hold responsible for these deaths? Maybe start with the rightwing lawyers who, working under the aegis of the rabidly conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and the Koch brothers-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), spent a couple of years scoring the Act looking for a opening for an attack – and found it in a typo -you’ve got that right, a typo. Add in Republican lawmakers who vociferously support the lawsuit and who, they assure us, will refuse to correct the typo that forms the basis of the challenge. Will anyone hold the rightwing think tanks, their corporate underwriters and their tame Republican politicians accountable for these deaths?
How about the estimated 24,000 lives that are lost in the U.S. as a result of lax regulation of coal particulates in the air? How about the thousands of coal miners who die yearly – according to Wikipedia, 3,200 miners died in 2007 alone – due to lax regulation of the mining industry? Shouldn’t the party of no regulations along with their corporate funders be held accountable for these and other deaths related to the failure to enact and enforce appropriate regulations?
I could go on and on counting off the various mechanisms of death for which the Republican party should be held accountable – we haven’t even touched on the wars pushed by Republican neo-cons in the past or their desire to embroil us in another similar war in Syria, Iraq, Iran, or what-have-you, or the massive die-offs that will result from climate-change ignored – but space and patience forces me to curtail the list.
There are two main implications to this death narrative. The first is that the GOP’s major operative principle is, “Give me market liberty or death,” and the inevitable resulting deaths are palatable to the Republican power-brokers and their underwriters because they are usually limited to the helpless and hopeless. That does not mean that the rest of us are helpless or hopeless to act or, at the very least, make sure that the blame is justly allocated.
Second, the potential deaths enumerated above are especially obscene just because they are potential. They could be avoided. But because of the willful obduracy of a few power-mad ideologues, the cynicism of and greed of other politicians, along with the equally willful ignorance of the people who vote for them, that’s probably not going to happen. Or it won’t happen if those of us who are appalled by the current and potential death-toll don’t get off our duffs and do something right now.
*Cross-posted to DailyKos with a few alterations.