Today on a local St. Louis NPR program, “St. Louis on the Air,” Illinois GOP Rep. Mike Bost decried the violent rhetoric that likely contributed to the deadly shooting in Washington D.C. yesterday where Louisiana Republican, Rep. Scalise, was critically injured. Quite appropriately. However, Bost’s approach to that rhetoric was, as we have come to expect from Republicans, a bit skewed and more than a little self serving.
When asked about the contributions of Donald Trump to the hateful political environment, he brushed off the carefully phrased question although he magnanimously claimed that “both sides” are guilty. His most telling example of hateful rhetoric: The fact that progressives have truthfully pointed out that should anything like the American Health Care Act (AHCA) become law, it will kill people – a line I suspect we’ll hear freqently over the next few days as Republicans cynically attempt to use yesterday’s Washington gun violence to evade responsibility for their AHCA vote.
Never mind that the person responsible for the carnage was a deranged and angry individual who, thanks to NRA-inspired gun laws, was easily able to acquire powerful and deadly weapons. If the shooting has anything at all to do with open acknowledgment of the realities of the AHCA, then perhaps Republicans should try to figure out why their effort to throw people out into the uninsured cold excites such intense anger. It might not just be the fault of the rhetoric.
I’ll admit freely that I’ve said that the AHCA as it now stands will kill people. And I’m going to keep on saying it. It’s true.
Last February, Vox did an analysis of the various studies that have attempted to determine the number of additional deaths that we can expect to see if the expanded insurance coverage offered by Obamacare is withdrawn. The authors concluded that 24,000 extra people will die yearly, more “than are killed by firearm homicides, HIV and skin cancer each year.” If anything remotely like the House’s version of the AHCA comes out of the Senate, more people will be without coverage than before we had Obamacare. So yes, the GOP’s mean-minded fiddling with health care will likely kill people.
Before we start apologizing for speaking the brutal truth about the brutal consequences of depriving millions of Americans of healthcare, we need self-righteous lawmakers like Mike Bost to tell us just which facts are in dispute, or, alternatively, why we should tiptoe around the facts. Just because Republicans don’t want to have to deal with the angry fallout of passing deadly legislation is no justification for silence.
I suspect that Bost couldn’t give us a satisfactory answer if asked to defend the AHCA. When asked by Vox reporters, it turned out that eight Republican Senators couldn’t “answer simple and critical questions about the health care bill they’re crafting in secret. Some still can’t say what it’s trying to do — other than garner enough votes to pass the Senate — or how they believe it will improve the American health care system.”
But incoherent little fools like Mike Bost are willing to say that telling the truth about what he and his Republican House colleagues propose to do amounts to hateful rhetoric and that that rhetoric is responsible for the fact that Rep. Scalise in in critical condition in a hospital. Insult to injury: Bost makes this claim while evading any effort to assign any blame to the GOP-cultivated gun culture.
People, left, right and center, are very willing to decry the lack of civility in current politics. But I fail to understand how civility could withstand the excesses of a GOP determined to serve the demands of the top 20% of Americans at the expense of the rest of us. Civility is the least of it. Let us be honest about what’s happening to us. Despair breeds anger. That’s the way it is.