Paul Ryan and The Republicans Have Failed America

Matt Fried
Jan 26, 2017 · 5 min read
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Photo credit: Gary Cameron/Reuters,

A week ago, I sat in the Saban Auditorium at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles at a town hall hosted by Rep. Adam Schiff (D.–CA); the subject: how to save The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare”.

The crowd was uneasy but eager to listen. It was a mix of freelancers such as myself, senior citizens, loyal Schiff constituents, and healthcare professionals — all of whom were anxious at the thought of losing their healthcare. ACA has been a tremendous benefit for me — allowing me to carry not great, but still cheap, healthcare since 2014 without having a steady employer. But I also fall at the extreme low-end of the beneficiary spectrum envisioned by President Obama. Outside of vitamins, I’m not currently on a prescription, nor require physical therapy or psychotherapy (even though I’m half-Jewish). Thanks to our former President’s laws, I can carry a cheap plan without fear of a tax penalty that still enables me to have a great primary care physician who is practical and doesn’t push prescriptions down my throat (if you’re reading this, and live in LA — contact me through my website, I’d be happy to refer you).

The luck of my circumstance became stark as I listened to the evening’s speakers: first, a young woman who — in 2010 — was rejected from coverage by 2 insurance companies because of her “pre-existing conditions” of acne and eczema; second, a constituent in his late 60s living with AIDS — a former costume dresser who proudly marched with Harvey Milk two generations ago — who depended on ACA-leveraged cheap prescriptions in order to live, along with medical marijuana; third, a first-year grad student, maybe 27 years old, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Leukemia, like all cancers, is incurable but treatable with chemotherapy. Because of ACA: this young man was able to afford treatment while studying for a master’s — a degree that has becoming increasingly necessary to even get a decent paying entry-level job in 2017. He choked back tears as he spoke to the room, revealing that a repeal of Obamacare would mean a terrible choice: not get his degree and go broke receiving medical treatment, or: pursue his degree and forego chemotherapy, which would most likely lead to his death.

It doesn’t take a policy expert to realize that this is a horrible position for this young man. And it doesn’t take a genius to realize Paul Ryan — the Victor Frankenstein of The Trump Monster — expects this peril to define what makes America “great” again.

Paul Ryan had plenty of opportunities in 2016 to distance the Republican Party from Trump. Where do I begin? There was the doxxing of Lindsay Graham, the mocking of the disabled reporter, the Russian hacking, the sexual assault, the Khan family, etc. etc. He was given multiple opportunities to take a stand and denounce Trump; to make it clear to the world: Republicans actually have morals and ethics. Even with Trump still winning, a call for decency by Paul Ryan could’ve instilled liberals like myself with some trust — regardless of the President, there’re unspoken rules we must follow.

Ryan, of course, has done none of that. Instead: he has shown flexibility to Trump’s bigotry and emerging paranoia, and has capitulated to the ugliest sides of this country’s culture. It’s clear to me that Paul Ryan has an agenda: make America great again for the rich and powerful. And who better to be a puppet for those policies than The Groper-In-Chief? Now granted: I’m sure Ryan wishes it were Mitt Romney, or Bush, or Rubio running the show. But beggars can’t be choosers, right? A Republican is finally back in The White House, so let him build his wall and investigate voter fraud that doesn’t exist! We’ve got taxes to cut and infrastructure to build over formerly protected land.

For the last 6 years, Paul Ryan and his cronies have crowed about the repeal of The Affordable Care Act — once again, Obamacare. ACA, in their opinion, has taken away the freedom of choice and devastated profits for insurance companies. It’s been their mandate to repeal and replace; Trump squawked that it would be gone in his first 100 days. So here we are: 6 years and 6 days into Trump’s Presidency, and the repeal has begun, but where is the replace? Where? Certainly, these patriots in Washington wouldn’t have spent 6 years flapping their arms about a huge problem, but have no solution ready to introduce? Right? According them: innovation has been stymied; people don’t have freedom of choice; unchecked Capitalism is great for all Americans!

Tell that, Paul, to a grown man who is afraid of dying because you can’t be bothered to think about him. Because it’s more important for behemoth health insurers to profiteer off the human condition than actually help your fellow citizens.

There is common sense in conservatism. But the philosophical problem I have with it is how it can oversimplify a complicated problem — like running a country of 50 states with a total population of 318.9 million people. Paul Ryan’s brand of conservatism — maybe neo-conservatism, who knows — benefits the winners: people born into money, people who leverage connections to get into Ivy League schools, and probably have jobs waiting for them after college. That’s not to say they are less of Americans, but where is the social responsibility; the Christian idea of selflessness and thinking beyond your own circumstances? George H.W. Bush believed in it, which is why he served — and barely survived — in World War II. Theodore Roosevelt not only rode into battle with the Rough Riders, but acted as a diplomatic intermediary between China and Russia. Barack Obama dedicated his early years to community organizing for the underprivileged, and later teaching law.

Paul Ryan, on the other hand, excused the antics of a spoiled, embarrassing child because his long game is to create a country that only benefits the wealthy, selfish, and opportunistic. Just yesterday: he tried to explain how $12-$15 billion of taxpayer money to build a wall is supposed to be good for American jobs and morale even though it’ll be a massive add to the deficit.

How about spending that $12-$15 billion on Americans living with cancer, AIDS, or trying to start a career so they don’t have to worry about dying, Speaker Ryan?

Paul Ryan and his Republican Party don’t care about Americans whom they don’t know personally — which is probably why Trump remained the candidate; Ryan’s probably worked for men like Trump and has never suffered an indignity by them. Or worse: he has, but thinks it builds character — part of the hazing process. But much like Frankenstein’s Monster, Trump is a different breed. He crashes, thrashes, and wails his way through life until he gets exactly what he wants — just look at the past year in politics, and then consider that he’s been alive for 70 years.

Paul Ryan probably thinks he’s got his monster under control; that it’ll be ugly but the day will prevail. Speaker Ryan — I don’t think you know what you’ve created. And I doubt you’ll listen to any common sense, unless it’s printed on memo from a bank in the Cayman Islands.

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