Following President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, the Democratic Party gave its response. Party leaders chose former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to do the honors this year. Beshear, who left office in 2015, has a record of expanding access to affordable health care, lowering his state’s uninsured rate from more than 20 percent to 7.5 percent.
Mr. President, as a candidate, you promised to be a champion for families struggling to make ends meet and I hope you live up to that promise. But one of your very first executive orders makes it harder for those families to even afford a mortgage.
Then you started rolling back rules that provide oversight of the financial industry and safeguard us against another national economic meltdown.
And you picked a Cabinet of billionaires and Wall Street insiders who want to eviscerate the protections that most Americans count on and that help level the playing field.
That’s not being our champion, that’s being Wall Street’s champion.
And even more troubling, you and your Republican allies in Congress seem determined to rip affordable health insurance away from millions of Americans who most need it.
Does the Affordable Care Act needs some repairs? Sure it does. But so far, every Republican idea to replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered, despite your promises to the contrary.
Mr. President, folks here in in Kentucky expect you to keep your word, because this isn’t a game, it’s life and death for people.
These ideas promise access to care, but deny the importance of making care affordable and effective. They would charge families more for fewer benefits and put the insurance companies back in control.
Behind these ideas is the belief that folks at the lower end of the economic ladder just don’t deserve health care. That it is somehow their fault that their employer doesn’t offer insurance or that they can’t afford to buy expensive health plans. But just who are these 22 million Americans, including 500,000 people right here in Kentucky, who now have health care that didn’t have it before?
Look, they’re not aliens from some distant planet. They are our friends and neighbors. We sit in the bleachers with them on Friday night, we worship in the pews with them on Sunday morning. They’re farmers, restaurant workers, part-time teachers, nurses aides, construction workers and entrepreneurs working at high-tech startups. And before the Affordable Care Act, they woke up every morning and went to work, just hoping and praying they wouldn’t get sick because they knew that they were just one bad diagnosis away from bankruptcy.
Another commitment now being tested is to our national security. Look, make no mistake, I am a military veteran myself and I know that protecting America is a president’s highest duty. Yet President Trump is ignoring serious threats to our national security from Russia, who is not our friend, while alienating our allies who fought with this side-by-side and are our friends in a dangerous world.
His approach makes us less safe and should worry every freedom-loving American. Instead, President Trump has all but declared war on refugees and immigrants. Look, the president can and should enforce our immigration laws, but we can protect America without abandoning our principles and our moral obligation to help those fleeing war and terror, without tearing families apart and without needlessly jeopardizing our military men and women fighting overseas.
President Trump also needs to understand that people may disagree with him from time to time, but that doesn’t make them his enemies. When the president attacks the loyalty and credibility of our intelligence agencies, the court system, the military, the free press, individual Americans, simply because he doesn’t like what they say, he’s eroding our democracy and that’s reckless. Real leaders don’t spread derision and division. Real leaders strengthen.