The Republican attacks on our health care apparently have no limits. The Republican Party is driven by a powerful, extremist obsession with turning back the clock on women's health services and undermining the health security of America's families. This was in evidence during last week's budget talks when Republicans were willing to shut down the government over funding for preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
Last week's big fight in Congress was about continuing funding for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year. In many ways the Republicans hijacked the debate and muddied the waters with their focus on social issues and their attacks on women. Rather than fulfilling their campaign promises to create jobs and revive the economy, the GOP is bound and determined to take away access to basic health care for millions of women, along with seniors, children, people with disabilities, middle class families and every other one of us.
Thankfully, the President and the Senate - with the support of House Democrats - stood up to the attacks on Planned Parenthood and the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act. But more attempts to take away our health security are coming. The Republicans also want to eliminate Medicaid and Medicare as we know it, and take away guaranteed health care benefits for seniors, children and people with disabilities.
Last week's agreement did not let the Republicans eliminate breast exams, cancer screenings, and birth control that millions of American women count on. But it did allow a new standalone vote later this week on a measure known as the Pence amendment which would defund Planned Parenthood. There will also be a separate vote on whether to defund the ACA.
On the campaign trail last year, the Republicans made a lot of promises about putting Americans back to work and reducing the deficit. If the Republicans truly cared about creating jobs and addressing the deficit, they'd ask millionaires and corporations to pay their fair share in taxes. What happened to shared sacrifice and the idea that everyone should pitch in? Why are we letting millionaires and big corporations off the hook and balancing the budget on the backs of seniors and middle class families? These are questions that the Democrats should answer with overwhelming political force.
The Republicans are mounting a frontal assault on the middle class. It's not about deficit reduction. It's not about the budget. It's about remaking our society so millionaires and corporations get even richer while the rest of us are left with crumbs.
We can't preserve and expand the middle class if people don't have affordable health care they can count on. These days, people have enough to worry about with high unemployment, rising gas and food prices and mortgages that are under water because of the Wall Street-led housing crash.
Access to quality, affordable health care is about economic security and whether people can raise their families and retire with dignity as their parents did. Instead of creating jobs and growing the economy, the Republicans are attacking the middle class and undermining the American Dream. We often say that big budget and issue fights are the most important ever, the biggest in generations - that the outcome of battles we're fighting will affect life in America for decades to come. This time, that's unmistakably true.
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