The Greeley Tribune’s Sharon Dunn reports from Weld County, Colorado, where a solidly Republican electorate voted for Donald Trump last November–and now face the consequences of their vote:
About 73,584 Weld County residents use Medicaid, according to the most recent count by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing. That’s about 24 percent of the county.
With President Donald Trump’s budget plan calling for $800 billion in cuts to the federal Medicaid program over the next 10 years and reports that the American Health Care Act, if passed, could leave 23 million more people across the country uninsured, it’s likely Weld residents will feel the changes…
So we’re clear, these are not positive changes. Unless you’re Weld County’s congressman, GOP Rep. Ken Buck:
The Congressional Budget Office released a report May 24 estimating the direct spending and revenue effects of the American Health Care Act, which passed the House but has yet to go to the Senate. The report estimates the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over the coming decade.
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., who voted for the bill, said it’s important to reduce the country’s deficit.
“It is clear we have healthy, able-bodied men and women who can join the workforce who are not in the workforce, and we have got to cut benefits [Pols emphasis] and incentivize employment in this country,” Buck said.
There are few members of Congress willing to be as frank about the goals of Republican policy as Ken Buck. Other Republicans couch their desire to cut people off from social safety nets in platitudes about offering “better” services to needy Americans than what current law provides, or highlight individual cases of people who aren’t seeing the benefits of reform.
It’s another thing completely to say we have to cut benefits to “incentivize” lazy Americans to go to work. Buck is evoking the worst kind of prejudice against recipients of all kinds of public assistance, the assumption that safety nets breed dependency and complacency instead of bridging financial gaps any family could face. The argument that we need to “incentivize employment” by cutting public assistance assumes a lack of work ethic that is simply offensive to recipients–especially considering how many recipients work full time at jobs that don’t pay enough to cover basic needs.
With all of this in mind, Rep. Buck’s dismissive insult of 24% of the population of the largest county in his congressional district is politically mind boggling to us. There is nothing to be gained politically from making such heartless assumptions about thousands of your own constituents. With so many residents on Medicaid, even the most hard case talk radio-loving social Darwinist knows someone who could be affected. We’re not saying this could endanger Buck’s re-election in his deep red district, but it’s horrible both for his own public image and for the Republican brand generally. It undermines more moderate Republicans looking to put a kinder face on these proposals.
Ken Buck’s lack of a filter is at least as big a threat to fellow Republicans as it is to Buck personally.