At Trump Campaign Fundraiser, a Scene from the Gilded Age

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

In what can only be described as a scene out of the Gilded Age of American history, millionaires and billionaires dined next to the president inside his own hotel while dozens of people protested outside. They chanted phrases like, “healthcare is a human right!” and yelled “shame!” at every guest who walked through the hotel doors. All of this, as President Trump is seeking to push through a health care that would cut $800 billion from Medicaid and cause 15 million Americans to lose Medicaid coverage.

The protest, organized by Public Citizen, Every Voice, Americans for Tax Fairness, and Working Families Party, occurred during Trump’s first campaign fundraiser. The fundraiser had it all, really: conflicts of interest, pay-to-play politics, and self-enrichment. It cost at least $35,000 to attend ($110,000 if you want to be a member of the host committee).

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) attended the fundraiser while disability advocates from his state are participating in an over 24 hour long sit-in at his office, sleeping on the floor and in the wheelchairs, urging he come out against the Senate bill. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) also made an appearance, despite having already come out against the bill.

While protesters expressed outrage outside, fundraiser attendees waved from the hotel windows.

“I knew racism, misogyny, and xenophobia was expensive, but I didn’t know it could run $35,000 a plate. This is what’s wrong with our country and our system as a whole,” said Delvone Michael, senior political strategist for Working Families Party. “Very wealthy millionaires and billionaires are inside, they’ve paid for access to make the case that the president that they deserve tax cuts and they want to pay for those tax cuts by taking healthcare away from 22 million deserving Americans.”

$35,000 is more than a household of 4 would need to make in order to qualify for Medicaid; it’s more money than 99 million Americans earn in a year. This deeply concerned the protesters, some of whom arrived in wheelchairs or with photos of their children.

“My husband is disabled, he receives social security, and we rely on that income, as well as Medicaid for his care,” said Stephanie Silvero, a New Jersey mother who brought her two young children to the protest with her. “I think these people at the fundraiser are disconnected. They clearly have no empathy for people who are in need. I don’t know how you teach someone empathy if they don’t have it.”

The Senate bill may not receive a vote before the July 4th recess, but it is not yet dead. The House went through a similar process and ultimately passed a version after some slight adjustments. Just yesterday, Trump promised a “big surprise” on health care, a “great, great surprise.”

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Reposted from Think Progress.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.

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Health Care Should Not Be A Bargaining Weapon

Health Care Should Not Be A Bargaining Weapon