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'Cruelty wrapped in a lie'

May 29, 2017
by Ron Manderscheid, PhD, Executive Director, NACBHDD and NARMH
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I am outraged, simply outraged, by the administration’s proposed budget for 2018, released this past week. I believe that you are too.

  • Who would take health insurance away from children who are poor?
  • Who would take away an already miserly monthly support payment from those with severe disabilities?
  • Who would take food stamps away from families whose children are hungry when they go to sleep every night?
  • Who would take health insurance away from our citizens who already are doubly disadvantaged:  disabled and poor?
  • Who would be so cruel? Who would be so heartless? Who would be so callous?

We all know who!

The administration spokesperson, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a tea partier, defended these outrageous proposals by saying that the administration is protecting the American taxpayer. In response, Dana Milbank, of the Washington Post, called this statement “a cruelty wrapped in a lie.”

The cruelty: The actual reality is that the president and this administration make distinctions about who is “worthy.” The wealthy are “worthy;” those who are poor and disabled are not. Therefore, this administration always tries to provide financial advantage to the wealthy and remove benefits from the poor.

The mere excesses of this cruelty simply boggle any reasonable person’s mind. This budget seeks to take trillions of dollars away from the poor over 10 years. Dramatic cuts would be made in the Child Health Insurance Program, Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance, SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid.

For Medicaid alone, the estimated decrease would be in excess of $1.5 trillion over 10 years. The budget assumes that the American Health Care Act will be passed this year, resulting in a decrease of $880 billion for Medicaid over 10 years. The administration also proposes in this budget an additional cut to Medicaid of more than $600 billion over 10 years. Clearly, this even is beyond outrageous, if such be possible!

The lie: To achieve a balanced budget in a decade, the administration assumes a growth rate of 3% for the economy. The most optimistic prediction by credible economists is about 2%. Thus, the budget’s economic projections are nothing more than a fiction.

The lie actually would be humorous, something to be expected when credibility and honesty are known to be absent in this administration, but the outrageous cruelty must not and should not be forgiven.

Senate leaders, where are you?

Governors, where are you?

County commissioners, where are you?

All of you know that the administration’s proposal is absolutely unacceptable, that it is beyond outrageous, and that it is morally derelict. If enacted, our rate of homelessness would skyrocket, our youth mortality rate would soar, and our lifespan would plummet.

So I ask you, our leaders, how are you going to respond to this cruelty wrapped in a lie. Are you going to sit by, silently, and permit this outrage to happen? Or, are you going to step forth and actually exert some moral leadership?

As you ponder your course, I hope that you will recall other recent national instances where the poor were treated outrageously. Czarist Russia, Weimar Germany, and Syria come immediately to mind.

We expect big things of you, our leaders. Don’t disappoint. We will be watching carefully.

And we will be voting.



Justly equitable as it applies to universal health insurance will not occur when the Congressional priorities are to balance the Federal budget. I also believe that our current healthcare reform strategy totally ignores the over-riding prevalence of the social determinants of HEALTH , community by community. Concurrently, our Nation has a declining level of Social Capital to ameliorate these social determinants of health through each community's effort to augment its Common Good for its residents.
The most egregious measure of each community's social capital asset is our nations maternal mortality rate. We are the only advanced/developed nation with a worsening maternal mortality ratio, for 25 years. To rank among the 10 best of the 51 advanced/developed nation's of the world, our nation's maternal mortality rate would need to be reduced by "80 %" . Astounding, but these numbers are correct. It means that @700 women die annually as a result of a pregnancy solely because they happen to live in the wrong nation.
Obviously, AHCA 2017 has many problems. The reductions in coverage probably represent the onerous rationing that will eventually be necessary to reduce our nation's health spending. ALL of the other advanced/developed nations spend <13.1% of their nation's economy on healthcare with better outcome measures. We are now >18.3%. The representative EXCESS healthcare spending is >$800 Billion annually for our nation (the 2005 equivalent of fighting "7" Iraqi/Afghanistan wars simultaneously).

Ron Manderscheid

Exec. Dir., NACBHDD and NARMH

Ron Manderscheid



Ron Manderscheid, Ph.D., serves as the Executive Director of the National Association of County...

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