What a strange world we live in. Obamacare makes it possible for young working people and students in their twenties to get health coverage under their parents' policies, or under Medicaid expansion (in those States where a Republican governor hasn't prevented it), or enjoy large discounts called "affordability credits" on their health insurance plans. For some reason, this offends the billionaire Koch Brothers. So the Koch Brothers have been running ads suggesting that young people will be . . . wait for it . . . raped (!!!) if they sign up for health insurance.
As if that weren't weird enough, the Koch Brothers have been hosting beer parties and dance parties on college campuses across America, asking participants to pledge that they will not sign up for health coverage!
Our champion for universal healthcare, Congressman Alan Grayson, was invited on national TV recently to discuss this. His advice: "Drink their beer, eat their pizza, and then sign up for care." Here is the interview:
Rev. Al Sharpton: Joining me now is Congressman Alan Grayson, Democrat from Florida. Thank you for being here tonight, Congressman.
Congressman Alan Grayson: Thank you.
Rev. Al: You know, it is pretty unseemly for the billionaire [Koch] Brothers [to be] spending money so that people won't have health insurance.
Alan: It's unscrupulous and sadistic. Here in Florida, more than a million people are not getting health insurance that the federal government would pay for entirely – one hundred cents on the dollar -- simply because the Tallahassee Republicans and Governor Scott won't go along with it. We pay our taxes to Washington, D.C., we would get this coverage in return, and they're preventing that from happening. So one million Floridians are going to go without health coverage this year, next year, and the year after, and a certain number of them are going to die because of that. The Koch Brothers are responsible. The Republicans are responsible. They all have blood on their hands.
Al: But you know what is interesting, Congressman? Ten Republican governors have caved on the Medicaid expansion. In fact, today, we're learning that Governor Kasich in Ohio has won his fight to bypass the state's Republican legislature to expand Medicaid. The Koch Brothers are still fighting this, but aren't more and more states seeing that expanding Medicaid is the way to go?
Alan: Well, you‘d have to be a fool to think otherwise. We're talking here about the poorest of the working poor. That's what this expansion covers – it's for people who make less [money] than the poverty level, and who have no children, so they don't qualify under current Medicaid standards in most states. They still have to work, and they simply can't afford the coverage any other way. If you ask people, "Why don't you have coverage?" 90% of them say, "Because we can't afford it." So here, the federal government is stepping in and eliminating the discrimination that exists between child couples and childless couples, to treat everyone the same, and yet these Republicans have to insinuate themselves and prevent five million people from getting the coverage that they deserve.
Al: You know, Koch-sponsored organizations are also hosting – listen to this, they're going further – hosting events for college students on college campuses to get young people to reject the Affordable Care Act. They host pizza parties, dance parties with DJs – they hand out beer koozies that say "Opt Out." They even have a fake Obamacare "draft card" burning. I mean, they're going all out to turn young people off of something that young people really need.
Alan: Well, my advice to them is to drink their beer, eat their pizza, and then sign up for the care. Because in many cases this care costs less than a hundred dollars a month. It's less than my cable bill. And they need it. If they get in a motorcycle accident, or a car accident, as so many young people do, they're going to need that coverage, and they'll be glad that they did.
Al: This is really billionaires versus poor people. And in fact, President Obama recently called out billionaires like the Koch Brothers. Watch this.
--begin clip of President Barack Obama--
President Barack Obama: Some of the Tea Party's biggest donors, some of the wealthiest men in America, are funding an ad campaign trying to convince young people not to buy healthcare at all. I mean, think about it. These are billionaires, several times over – you know they've got good healthcare.
--end clip of President Barack Obama--
Al: Now, to be fair, they're not only spending their money in this area, Congressman. They reportedly own two million acres of land in Northern Alberta. If the Keystone Pipeline is expanded, the Koch Brothers stand to make $100 billion in profits. Isn't it exactly this wealth that makes it possible for them to have such enormous influence over issues that benefit them?
Alan: Well, that's exactly why they have such enormous influence over the Tea Party and the Republican Party. Because the Republican Party's creed these days is, let's take every tax break, let's take every bailout, let's take every permit like the Keystone [Pipeline] permit, let's take every government contract, and put it up to the highest bidder. Not for the public, not for the Treasury, but for their own coffers, for their own campaign contributions. And that's the way they do business. From [Republican House Majority Leader] Eric Cantor on down.
Al: Congressman Alan Grayson, thank you. And one last note, we reached out to the Koch Brothers on this story, but they declined to comment.
Congressman Alan Grayson – speaking out forcefully for universal, comprehensive and affordable healthcare. And calling out those who stand in the way. Click here to see the video, or to contribute to the Grayson campaign. Or both.
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