Representative Jason Chaffetz (Republican – Utah) made the following comment when he was trying to defend the horrible health care plan that the GOP released.  They want to replace “Obamacare” with their plan, which will, in short, cause a whole lot of harm to poor people – especially poor people who have chronic or serious illnesses.

Here is what Representative Jason Chaffetz said:

“Well, we’re getting rid of the individual mandate.  We’re getting rid of those things that people said they don’t want.  Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice.  So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.” 

I posted my thoughts about this on Twitter, and I am putting those thoughts here where they will be easier to read:

Representative Jason Chaffetz said poor people should “have to choose between the new iPhone and health care”.

My iPhone allows me to quickly find out the pollen count when I’m away from my computer (and too sick to get out of bed).

My iPhone makes it easy for me to identify cross reactive food allergens when I’m at the grocery store.

My iPhone helps me identify the many chemicals made from coconut in soap/shampoo, while I’m at the store.  Prevents allergic reactions.

My iPhone helps me to quickly look up menus/allergen menus from restaurants so I can see if it’s safe for me to eat there before I go in.

My iPhone makes it easy for me to call my doctors when I need to.  I’m dyslexic, and numbers don’t stand still for me.

My iPhone enables me to ask Siri what my phone number is so I can fill out forms at doctors office.  Gets around my dyslexia

My iPhone distracts me on high pain days when my rheumatoid arthritis is bad and all I can do to be social is tweet Neko Atsume cats.

My iPhone helps me take notes when I’m at acupuncture (for allergies and arthritis).  I come out with “brain fog” and forget otherwise.

The point I’m trying to make is that Jason Chaffetz has no idea what he’s talking about and is a big meanie.

Jason Chaffetz’s asinine comment is new, but is a variation on things we’ve all heard before from rich people who hate poor people.  We already have a bunch of hateful people who incorrectly (and without any evidence to back up their claims) believe that people who use SNAP spend it on steaks and lobster.

I’ve had times when I needed to use food stamps.  One time, my husband and I bought two steaks which we took home, cooked, and ate for our Anniversary dinner.  We couldn’t afford to go to a fancy restaurant, or on vacation, or to buy expensive presents for each other.

There are people who think that my husband and I didn’t deserve those steaks because we were poor.  I guess we were supposed to split a box of Mac-and-cheese for our Anniversary dinner.

And here’s the thing with food stamps – nobody who is eligible for food stamps actually gets enough supplementation from SNAP to realistically feed themselves (or to feed their families).  Those two steaks wiped out a big chunk of the SNAP benefits we were receiving.

Members of Congress who actually care about poor people have taken the Congressional Food Stamp Challenge.  They quickly learn how hard it is to get by on SNAP benefits, what it’s like to be afraid you won’t have enough money to feed yourself before you get paid again, and how hard it is to perform at work while you have hunger pains.

Poor people aren’t allowed to have good food.  They aren’t allowed to have any special treats to celebrate with.  Why? As punishment for being poor.

Every time someone uses the phrase “welfare queen”, they are using a convenient stereotype created by former President Ronald Reagan  decades ago.  He convinced conservative/Republican (and likely racist) Americans that black women were intentionally obtaining welfare benefits by engaging in fraud and that they were doing this because they didn’t want to have to work.

This is why the hateful people today think that women who have children, and who qualify for WIC, or SNAP, or other types of “welfare” are lazy.  The horrible people think these women are lying on their couches eating bon bons while the government pays for their lavish lifestyle.

In reality, these women are at poverty level, are struggling to feed their family, and are living in subsidized housing (in dangerous areas) or in crappy apartments where things are broken and the landlord refuses to fix them.

Poor people aren’t allowed to have help.  They have to live in dangerous and awful places, with not enough food to feed their family.  Why?  Because they are poor and aren’t working.  Except…. many of them are working – sometimes two or more jobs on minimum wage – which isn’t enough for a person to survive on (or for a family to).

And now, thanks to Jason Chaffetz’s comment – poor people aren’t allowed to have iPhones.  Why?  Because we should be spending all our money on health care.

Here’s the thing, though.  Many of us poor people are already spending a large portion of our money on health care.  We’re paying part of a subsidy for our “Obamacare” insurance.  We’re paying out of pocket for health care our insurance refuses to cover.  We’re paying a co-pay to see a doctor, and we’re paying part of the cost of prescription medication. We’re paying for over the counter medication out of pocket.

What Chaffetz doesn’t understand is that poor people – especially poor people who have chronic illnesses, or cancer, or other serious illnesses, have been investing in our own health care for years.  We’re already making decisions about whether to buy the prescription medication we need or to use that money to buy groceries.  There aren’t any poor people standing in line for the newest iPhone INSTEAD OF going to chemotherapy for their cancer.

Another thing Chaffetz doesn’t understand is that the GOPs plan – which they want to replace “Obamacare” with – will take away the access to health care that poor people were finally able to get thanks to “Obamacare”.  It is his fault- and the fault of the other Republicans in Congress – that poor people may have to spend even more of their limited income on health care than they currently are (or will not be able to afford any health care at all).

Chaffetz’s comments are also ablest.  As I noted in my tweets that I included earlier in this post, many people who have chronic illnesses use their iPhone as an assistive device.  My husband is legally blind, and has used his iPhone camera to zoom in on street signs and small print on packages of food.

Other people might be using an app that helps them keep track of symptoms so they can talk to their doctor about it on their next visit.  They might be setting an alarm on their iPhone to remind them when to take their medications.  People with physical limitations might be asking Siri to look things up for them.  The list goes on.

Life is difficult enough for people who are poor.  We don’t need Representatives, who have a high income and an excellent health insurance plan, to attempt to shame us for wanting nice things once in a while.  We REALLY don’t need Representatives to give the people who already hate poor people one more excuse to pick on them about.

According to Chaffetz, “Americans have choices” – but NOT if they’re poor.

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