The people of Maine deserved better

The people of Maine deserved better

Yesterday was the most painful day I have ever had working in public service as I watched the GOP-controlled House callously pass a bill by just two votes that strips 24 million Americans of healthcare, eliminates the guarantee that NO ONE will be denied health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition, raises premiums on seniors who can least afford it by thousands of dollars and gives, yet again, tax cuts to the wealthiest among us and corporations. This is perhaps the biggest assault on Americans I have ever witnessed in my lifetime – it is not only breathtaking but it is immoral and nothing short of domestic terrorism committed by our government against its own people.

Today stands in contrast to the day we passed the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. I had the incredible honor of working for Congressman Mike Michaud on behalf of the people of Maine’s Second Congressional District for 12 years and being there the night Congress ended a 100-year journey that began under Teddy Roosevelt to guarantee all Americans the basic right to health care. The bill we passed wasn’t perfect but it has helped millions of people to lead healthier lives without going bankrupt, helped seniors to not have to choose between food and medicine and helped the less fortunate among us to climb their way out of poverty because they no longer had to choose between government assistance and a job because they needed healthcare to treat a pre-existing condition.

As Mike’s Chief of Staff, I led a team on his behalf that conducted nearly 90 meetings, community events and forums before deciding how he would ultimately vote back in 2009. When Mike did decide to vote yes we could say with a straight face and the moral backbone that we had truly listened to the people of Maine. We didn’t hide from the voters, we didn’t dodge the press and we didn’t stop answering the phones in Lewiston or Bangor or Presque Isle. We had honest conversations with the people we served. And we got actual changes to the bill that helped states like Maine had only our Governor participated in the Medicaid expansion. But he didn’t – and that’s a different story for another day.

If you think the system is rigged, it is. If you think the decks are stacked against hard working Americans, they are. And reason this is true is because Congress is filled with a bunch of out of touch, elitist rich people who could care less about people like you and I – could care less about senior and kids – the poor and the sick. They could care less about doing what’s right as long as the cling to power and fill their campaign coffers.

And I for one believe the people of Maine deserved better than they got today. Better than being ignored by their representative and the staffers that work for them. Better than being cast aside like cheap pawns in a political game that reward the special interests, the rich and the powerful and the establishment that keeps them in power.

We can and must do better. And dammit, we will.

Photo via Flickr/Stephen Melkisethian

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Peter Chandler
Peter Chandler 1 posts

Peter Chandler served as Chief of Staff to Rep. Mike Michaud for 12 years. After Rep. Michaud left Congress, he went on to lead the whip effort to attempt to defeat fast track trade promotion authority to stop bad trade deals for Americans workers.

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