I saw in Susan Collins a Republican senator who could not be intimidated, someone who believed the middle class and poor had as much right at the table as the wealthiest Americans. She advocated for bipartisan work to solve pressing problems such as health care, and I believed her. I was proud she was a woman and began to hope that women might just save our country and our democracy.
She alone could not have kept the tax bill from passing, but perhaps her moral leadership, evidenced in the past, could have influenced at least one other Republican senator to do the right thing. Collins knows this bill was designed to enrich the wealthiest Americans and Republican donors at the expense of those most in need, with 13 million Americans likely to lose their health insurance.
She can say she got deals to help with the cost of health insurance, but as Victoria McGrane pointed out in her Dec. 8 front-page article, “Tax vote turns Collins backers sour,” “the damage from repealing the individual mandate is estimated to be far greater than those fixes could repair.”
In the end, Collins chose party over country, and I lost my hero.
Senator Susan Collins should not be “puzzled” by the outcry following her vote on the tax bill. I joined a group of parents of children with disabilities who laid it out in stark detail for the Maine Republican’s staff the day before she voted: The bill will devastate the disability community.
She seems to need a refresher, so I’ll connect the dots: The bill would create a massive deficit. It will not pay for itself, as Republicans are fond of saying. Trickle-down economics has a 100 percent failure rate. As the deficit grows, so will the hue and cry to cut Medicaid, despite Collins’s insistence that cutting entitlements is not her plan. Congressional Republicans have already declared that as their next goal.
Children with disabilities rely heavily on Medicaid for their health care; adults with disabilities rely on Medicaid for everything, including housing, transportation, and employment. This year alone, at least 24 Maine group homes for disabled adults closed due to staffing shortages caused by low wages, which are the result of chronic Medicaid underfunding. Sixty-nine people with intellectual disabilities were cast out on the street; some ended up homeless, hospitalized, or incarcerated. The tax bill will exacerbate this crisis. Is that clear, Senator Collins?
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