Obamacare Myths, and More Unfair Attacks on Single Mothers


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Income gap worsening

Journalist George Will race-baits

Bill O’Reilly uses Martin Luther King, Jr. to attack single mothers, rap music

New Jersey Senate candidate Steve Lonegan thinks women with jobs should get jobs

Really weird segment on Fox News

Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life, blames murder on abortion

Transcript

On this episode of Reality Cast, Tara Culp-Ressler explains some of the myths about Obamacare and why you shouldn’t believe them. Meanwhile, Fox News is trying to argue that gender ratings in insurance are good, and conservatives are on the rampage against single mothers again.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has a new video up about the attacks on reproductive rights that dominated so much of the summer.

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To find out more about how to help push back against all these attacks, please go to www.drawtheline.org and sign their petitions.

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As noted on previous podcasts, the health insurance exchanges are starting on October 1st, and in a last ditch attempt to raise some hysteria about it and try to get the Republicans to throw a Hail Mary to stop it from happening, right wing media is throwing a bunch of accusations against the wall to see what sticks. Invariably, this means going to one of their favorite wells, which is trying to stoke conservative male resentment against women. Which led to one of the weirder segments I’ve seen in awhile on “Fox and Friends” which is saying a lot. They brought on Dr. David Samadi to protest a provision in the health care law that requires insurance companies to charge men and women the same rates for health care.

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Yep, they’re trying to stoke male resentment against women by saying, “wah, women, uh, get to go to the doctor more.” Men, isn’t this a raw deal, for you? Women are running around, getting their boobs squished and their cervixes scraped and are pushing babies out of their vaginas, if they’re not having major abdominal surgery. On top of that, women get to nag more and get to be painted as fun-killing responsibility machines. Aren’t you jealous? Of course women need to be charged more! I mean, they get to have all the fun. I guess men could get more screenings and check-ups, but they don’t want to, so yeah, it actually doesn’t make a lot of sense. But they plunged ahead anyway. Gretchen Carlson, whose ability to handle her assigned role of smiling sunnily at men who are saying outrageously misogynist things to her varies from week to week, did, to be fair, point out that a lot of the extra visits are for things like check-ups, that prevent massive costs down the road. But she was railroaded and got to enjoy hearing about how all her medical problems are due to her initial failure to be born the correct gender. Like, all her medical problems.

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Sadly, Carlson was so offended by what was unoffensive about this discussion, which was Dr. Samadi’s point that insurance pays for your treatments out of a pool everyone pays into, that she blew right past what was really offensive, which is that Dr. Samadi blamed her Lyme disease on her gender. But what’s really irritating about this is that women get it coming and going. Whenever feminists talk about pay inequality, conservatives inevitably claim that the pay gap is strictly due to women’s choices—that women choose to work less or in less lucrative jobs or whatever. It’s not really true, since evidence shows that women who work equal hours at equal jobs to men still get paid less, and also it’s worth pointing out those choices are constricted by sexism, too. But let’s say you accept the premise that inequality is fine if it’s a choice. Well, the claim here is that women should be charged more for something they absolutely did not choose, which is their bodies and all the attendant extra medical maintenance that comes with them. So, if we make choices, that justifies paying us less. If we don’t make choices, that justifies charging us more. No matter how you slice it, women are not allowed to have the same amount of money as men.

Then there’s the childbirth issue, and how it’s treated like it’s solely a woman’s problem, something Carlson brought up.

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He couldn’t actually get around her point, so instead blamed “the system.” The system that, uh, Obamacare is trying to change so that responsibility is more shared, and he is openly advocating against sharing that responsibility. His preferred system, I kid you not, is to end insurance entirely and have people pay for all health care costs out of pocket, which would be even more unfair to women. That wouldn’t help share responsibility for hospital bills for childbirth at all, but could create a system where more women and infants are dying in childbirth because being unable to get health care without being able to pay upfront would be such a impediment to safe delivery. Something which was also overlooked in this segment, which was mostly about sexist yakking and resentment-building, and had nothing to do with fixing actual problems in our health care system.

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This country just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the famous March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech and pressure for the federal government to start taking serious action to combat the effects of racism started to kick into high gear, causing the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Fiftieth anniversary coverage, for obvious reasons, had to acknowledge that despite some momentous gains, including electing a Black president, there’s still major racial disparities and continuous attacks on the human rights of African Americans, including a rollback of voting protections. In addition, a new report shows that the income gap between white and Black Americans is actually $8,000 wider in real dollars than it was in the late 60s. So there’s a lot of bad news that conservatives need to distract from, and unsurprisingly they went to their favorite well of insinuating that Black women cause all the problems with their reproductive and sexual decisions. In response to Donna Brazile talking about the voting rights issue on ABC, George Will pompously went straight for this race-and-sex-baiting nonsense.

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Surely, huh, George? This is one of the most irritating tics that right wingers have, in no small part because a lot of people don’t realize how much this whole hoopla about “unwed mothers” owes more to ugly myths about women, particularly Black women, supposedly being out of control sexually. George Will wants you to imagine that three-quarters of Black women are having casual sex and bearing children without the father being anywhere around. Inevitably, if you point out that this is an ugly, vicious, untrue stereotype, conservatives will bleat about how the statistics show that single mothers are more likely to struggle economically. That is true, but it’s a slight of hand. Just because you’re not legally married when you have a baby doesn’t mean you’re single—in many to most cases, it’s actually a couple who is committed and usually living together. Most women raising children alone were either married or in committed relationships, but saw those relationships fall apart. Their experiences are being erased because Will wants to stoke some sexualized hysteria about Black people themselves to distract from the very real problems facing this country. Sadly, he was not the only one. Bill O’Reilly was singing the same tune, though, as usual, he was being even more ballistic about it, daring to speak for a man that actually disagreed with O’Reilly on nearly all topics.

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The gleeful appropriation of Dr. King after his death as a weapon to attack any Black people who have the temerity to still be alive is nothing new on the right. It’s hard to say what Dr. King would have said about all these things, but my guess is not actually anything like O’Reilly is pretending here. King was a man of his time and had a lot of opinions that were of his time, but he was also someone who was intellectually curious and willing to change and grow with new information. The civil rights movement of the time leaned heavily on pop music, even from risqué artists like Josephine Baker, to help spread its message, and so I have to say that I’m disinclined to think that the knee-jerk hostility to evolving pop music and human sexuality that O’Reilly projects onto Dr. King is fair in the slightest. Additionally, Dr. King was a supporter of Planned Parenthood, and in a speech accepting an award, delivered by his wife, he noted that the focus on supposed cultural deficiencies amongst Black people is a distraction from the real problem, which is that Black Americans are, quote, “atomized, neglected and discriminated against.” So I think we have a good idea how he’d respond to O’Reilly’s concern-trolling.

And then there was New Jersey Senate candidate Steve Lonegan, who decided to lecture single mothers who do use assistance that they don’t need it.

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By the way, the question he was responding to, offered by another guest on Up with Steve Kornacki, did not posit an unemployed single mother, but an employed one.

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So, when asked specifically what single mothers who work should do to get health care and food, Lonegan said … uh, get a job. Which they already have. And yes, it would be great if there were enough good jobs so that every single mother, every person really, could have one that paid well and covered the necessary bills easily. I agree. But Lonegan, who is a stalwart libertarian type, actually supports policies that slash wages and end benefits for working class people. So he’s just blowing smoke. This is typical of what the term “single mother” is used for, especially by conservatives, in the media: A way to raise fears about female independence and female sexuality in order to distract from and obscure the real issues at stake. The stereotype of the lazy woman is invoked and even though the questioner actually mentioned that she has a job, the stereotype allows Lonegan to give a nonsense answer that is about distracting instead of enlightening.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, blaming everything they can on abortion edition. Janet Morana, the executive director of Priests for Life, decided to address the senseless murder of an Australian teenager by claiming, without a shred of evidence, that the murderers killed because of abortion.

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As a point of fact, it’s been repeatedly demonstrated that the generations born after Roe v. Wade are actually less likely to commit murder. However, the correlation is almost surely just a coincidence.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on Twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • John H

    Health insurance is still not actually affordable for a lot of young Americans, even with the subsidies. See this AlterNet article, for example: http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/affordable-care-act-actually-affordable-millennials-maybe-not?paging=off

    We need at minimum a single-payer system, and preferably an actual public health care system (insurance is not care – I, for example, have supposedly-excellent health insurance through my employer, but the specific provisions of my policy make it difficult for me to actually use my insurance to pay for care).