If there’s one thing I hate about the media, it’s the voracious rapidity with which one thing becomes a story across every, single outlet and eclipses everything else. So last night, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer made an appearance at the 2017 Emmys, everyone was (rightfully) pissed-off and weirded-out and annoyed at Hollywood. And while it’s important for everyone to express their outrage and disgust, it’s also super-important to keep an eye on everything else going on, like the new ACA repeal – the Graham-Cassidy Measure.
First, the Graham-Cassidy measure. Put together by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the measure would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It would be a “last-ditch attempt to repeal Obamacare before the GOP’s power to pass heath care legislation through a party-line vote in the Senate expires on Sept. 30,” according to Politico.
Apparently Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is seriously considering putting the bill to a vote, if he can be assured of the support of 50 Republicans in the Senate (the GOP has a majority of 52). Currently they do not have the support of 50 votes, but Graham has publicly begged Trump to support the cause and private rallying has gone on. If passed by the Senate, it would require being approved by the House with no changes – a steep ask.
The bill would scale back federal government involvement in the health care system, offering up the alternatives of block grants to states. According to the Washington Post, “Rather than funding Medicaid and subsidies directly, that money would be put into a block grant that a state could use to develop any health-care system is wants. It also allows states to opt out of many ACA regulations.” The cuts would force states to be more “efficient” in their doling out, and would hit liberal states (those who rely on Medicaid the most) the hardest.
States would be able to change what counts as an “essential health benefit,” things like mental health and maternal care that under the ACA were mandatory coverage. Planned Parenthood, in a similar outcome to the failed “skinny repeal,” would face a one-year freeze of federal funding.
The new bill does not currently have an evaluation from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, but one is in the works.
Now, the Sean Spicer of it all. I think Dan Rather put it best, in a Facebook post, which I’ll just include a small snippet of and link to the rest.
“It is not funny that the American people were lied to. It is not funny that the press was attacked for doing its job… to actively serve in the capacity in which he did, and the manner in which he conducted himself, can not be allowed to be normalized. Actions must have consequences… We are still in the midst of an administration that actively lies to the American people. We do not know where this is all going. There are looming criminal investigations. To have Sean Spicer now lead us in laughter about all this makes me uneasy.”
And it’s true. For months, Sean Spicer lied on the podium and helped to turn the press into an enemy. He, whether knowingly or unknowingly, contributed to an environment where asking questions became anathema and turned truth itself into optional.
To have Sean Spicer on the stage symbolized everything wrong with Hollywood – they pat themselves on the back for the smallest amounts of progress while actively contributing to the disenfranchisement of minority people. It’s having Brie Larson, who won the Oscar for portraying a victim of sexual assault and abuse, give an award to Casey Affleck, a man who has been accused of sexual harassment. It’s that in 2017 Lena Waithe is only the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for best writing in Comedy.
It’s not funny to have the guy who lied on behalf of Donald Trump come out and joke about the lies that he peddled. It’s not funny to reward him for bad behavior with more press and more opportunities.
We are existing in a world where bad behavior, and downright evil behavior, is being normalized and rewarded. Over the weekend, Trump retweeted a gif of him swinging a golf ball into the back of Hillary Clinton, his defeated candidate. This is almost a year after his victory, and he is still actively viciously towards a female opponent. And it was more of a blip in the world than anything else.
We. Are. Not. Living. In. Normal. Times. As small and innocuous as it seems to have Sean Spicer out on the Emmy stage for a laugh, it contributes to a cycle of abuse and normalization that this administration has allowed to pervade every aspect of our world.
Don’t laugh. It’s not funny.