As the health care debate thundered away in Washington, Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah stirred up a social media squall the other day by suggesting that uninsured Americans should invest in their own health care “rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love.”
To Mr. Chaffetz’s supporters, his comments sounded like a tough-love defense of individual responsibility in the midst of a knockdown debate over the government’s role in providing health care to Americans. To his critics, they sounded like a callous and obtuse dismissal of the hard choices that struggling families face every day — and one that echoed earlier, racially noxious arguments over “welfare queens” and criticisms of programs that helped provide phone service to poor people.
The Hunters have thought plenty about trying to cut out the $100 they spend on cellphone service every month. Yes, they said, it’s a lot, especially when they don’t have health insurance and they stretch the last dollars from their $1,800 monthly income to buy diapers and gasoline.
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