Tom Perez, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former Obama Labor Secretary, has denounced Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-Utah) claim this morning that poor Americans need to choose between having an iPhone or having access to healthcare.
Perez gave a rousing statement about Chaffetz’s derisive remarks about the millions of working class Americans who stand to lose healthcare under the new Obamacare “replacement” unveiled today by House Republicans:
“Rep. Jason Chaffetz is a shameless hypocrite.
“He makes a six-figure taxpayer salary, has taxpayer subsidized healthcare, and he still thinks working Americans should be forced to choose between health insurance or owning a telephone.
“It’s no wonder why Republicans kept their plan hidden for so long. It’s also glaringly obvious why they’re so desperate to ram it through Congress — they don’t want the public to find out what’s in it.
“If passed, this plan will throw millions of Americans off their healthcare and make it more expensive for millions more, especially seniors who will see cuts to Medicaid and increased premiums. For many Americans, it’s a death sentence.”
These people aren’t going to be saved by giving up their iPhone. Healthcare is expensive and is going to become even more so under the Republican plan. Assuming that they even have an iPhone to give up.
Around 20% of Americans own an iPhone, but smartphone ownership of any brand is concentrated among the wealthy and the highly educated. In 2015, 52% of adults in households with an annual income below $30,000 owned a smartphone while 87% of adults in households earning more than $75,000 did.
Just 41% of Americans with less than a high school degree own a smartphone, and most of them will own a cheaper smartphone than an iPhone. And 44% of these low income smartphone owners have had to turn off their service because it was too expensive.
It isn’t enough to throw the poor under the bus and blame them for their financial hardships. Socioeconomic inequality in America has grown to unprecedented levels in recent decades. What are the poor supposed to do if they are toiling every day of their lives just to keep their heads above water? What’s the solution if they just can’t get ahead? Continue to not buy iPhones?
For the record, Chaffetz bought his iPhone with campaign donation money:
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) March 7, 2017
Chaffetz is dismally out of touch. Sounds like he could use some time out of Congress to go remind himself of how hardworking Americans actually live.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.