(Editor’s note: Dr. Brock delivered this speech at Virginia Organizing’s media conference in Fredericksburg, where leaders asked Representative Rob Wittman to vote against more tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to health care and food assistance programs.)
We live in the wealthiest nation the world has ever seen.
We have a $20 trillion economy, still the world’s largest.
There were 540 billionaires in the U.S. in 2016.
They were worth $2.4 trillion.
The net worth of all households is about $90 trillion.
The top 10% of us own about 80% of the stock market.
And yet 40% of us cannot afford an extra bill of $400.
And 40 Million of us rely on SNAP (averaging about $125/month) to prevent our neighbors from going hungry.
We live in a country that spends nearly twice as much on health care per person as any of the world’s other advanced, industrialized nations—that’s about $3.5 trillion each year. Yet we still manage to leave 28 million of us without any health insurance; we still manage to leave tens of millions of hard working American families deeply underinsured when it comes to their health; and we seem to remain deeply committed to a badly broken multiple payer system of health insurance that accounts for not only 600,000 medical bankruptcies each year, but also 30,000 unnecessary deaths directly attributable to that multiple payer health insurance system…because it is so hard for so many to obtain affordable health care.
The budget policies passed last year in Congress and signed by the President— in an era of nearly unprecedented budget deficits— included a tax cut of about a trillion dollars, 83% of which accrued to the benefit of not only the wealthiest Americans but also to the largest and most powerful multinational corporations, while the annual budget shortfall increased by another trillion dollars.
Now our total national debt is more than $20 trillion.
And how does the Trump Administration plan to fix the budget deficit that was made so much worse by the huge 2017 tax cut— that so heavily favored the wealthiest among us?
The Trump Administration and their backers in Congress plan to cut aid for the neediest.
They plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, which would create immense financial burdens for much of the middle and working class families that make America great.
They want to gut payments that help subsidize the 80% of Obamacare policyholders who otherwise would not be able to afford ever-increasing health insurance premiums.
They plan to cut federal aid that helps states cover patients who need Medicaid.
They plan to cut SNAP, the supplemental nutrition program, for people who would otherwise go to bed hungry at night.
Yes, they plan to cut food stamps (SNAP) for the 40 million who use them every day at the local food market—and those are frequently neighborhood grocery stores that depend on just those customers to keep those stores open and profitable.
We are here today to continue a dialogue that is as old as humanity.
We are here today to bring attention to the problems endured by so many who have a hard time making themselves heard.
We are here today to say that America can do better than this.
We are here today to answer your questions on how we can continue to build a more perfect union.
Jay D. Brock, MD