As the congressional recess—usually a time for lawmakers to interact with their constituents—is set to end on Monday, many Republicans are working extremely hard to avoid voters angry about the Senate GOP's historically unpopular and potentially deadly Trumpcare plan.
"Frankly, this is what oligarchy is all about."
—Senator Bernie SandersHouse Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) expressed what the New York Times has characterized as a common sentiment among his colleagues late last week, when he announced that he would not hold any open town halls because he doesn't want protesters to yell at him. Ryan has also repeatedly refused to take questions from reporters.
Since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced his decision to delay the vote on Trumpcare until after the July 4 recess, opposition to the bill has only grown more intense. As Common Dreams reported, a coalition of progressive groups last week organized sit-ins geared toward keeping healthcare in the public spotlight as reports indicate that the bill could hit the floor for a vote as early as mid-July.
Even in states that voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in November, the bill is strongly disliked. According to an analysis by MIT Assistant Professor Chris Warshaw, Trumpcare is "the most unpopular legislation in three decades."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) spoke in two deeply red states—Kentucky and West Virginia—on Sunday in an effort to emphasize the devastating consequences the Republicans' plan would have on the poor, the elderly, those with preexisting conditions, and those struggling with opioid addiction.
Ahead of the planned "Care Not Cuts" rallies, Sanders released a statement singling out McConnell in particular, who he argued is attempting to ram through legislation that would severely harm his own state.
"Unbelievably, at a time when Kentucky has made significant progress in healthcare, the Republican bill being proposed in the Senate by Kentucky's own Senator Mitch McConnell would throw over 230,000 people in Kentucky off of health insurance," Sanders said.
[Trumpcare] would also decimate the Medicaid program in the state which provides insurance for more than 2 million people, including 40 percent of all children.
Further, at a time when Kentucky is struggling with an opioid addiction epidemic, there is no question that if McConnell's legislation were to be passed, thousands of Kentuckians would no longer be able to receive the treatment they desperately need.
Since the Senate's plan was finally unveiled after weeks of secrecy, Sanders and Democratic lawmakers have denounced the legislation as a tax cut for the wealthy disguised as a healthcare plan.
"Frankly," Sanders recently said, "this is what oligarchy is all about."
In his speech in Morgantown, West Virginia, Sanders said:
We are gathered here today to make one simple point. And what we are saying, as clearly as we can, is that we will not allow 22 million Americans to be thrown off of the health insurance they currently have in order to give over $500 billion in tax breaks to the wealthiest 2 percent of this country, and to profitable drug companies and to other large health care corporations. Plain and simple, this so-called "health care" bill is nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth from working families to the very rich. While there are massive cuts to Medicaid, while seniors will pay far more in premiums, while Planned Parenthood will be defunded—the 400 highest—income taxpayers, most of whom are billionaires, will get about $33 billion in tax cuts.
Watch a video of the rally: