More Focus Needed On Poor People

by Brien Jackson

One thing that’s been sadly lacking from the intramural skirmish amongst progressives over whether or not the Senate healthcare bill is a bill worth passing is any sort of grappling with the bill’s impact on poor people, as opposed to the middle and working classes. Not that middle and working class people aren’t important or shouldn’t be important to progressives, but as tough as things are for them, it’s much harder to be poor in America than it is even to be middle class. And the plight of the poor has been one of the hallmark issues of progressivism since its beginnings, so it’s rather odd to see Uber-Awesome Progressives like Kos and Hamsher more or less never mention poor people, like, ever.

But via Yglesias, a chart that illustrates that, as much as healthcare reform may be an important policy matter for the entire country, it’s a very important issue for poor people:

Now, on the one hand, there’s something unsurprising about this. Poor people need healthcare as much as anyone (even more really), but they have less money, so care is going to eat up a larger portion of their incomes. That’s just math. On the other hand, as Yglesias says, it illustrates how much issues of “affordability” largely miss the point; healthcare is already unaffordable for millions of people. That’s one of the big problems.

I would add that one thing i find troubling is how freely some people are calling this a “shitty bill,” because if you’re poor, this is definitely not a shitty bill.  On the whole I would say the bill is good, not great, but it’s very good from the perspective of the poorest Americans. And the degree to which some leftist commentary is deriding the substance of the bill as being not very good, it suggests that those commenters aren’t very interested in the plight of poor Americans.