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Op-Ed

King’s True Legacy

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By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

NNPA Columnist

 

This month will mark the 85th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Across the nation and throughout the world community, millions of people will pay tribute and celebrate the birth of one our greatest freedom fighters and most effective leaders. The legacy of Dr. King is more than a federal holiday although we should never forget the protracted but successful struggle that was required to get that holiday recognition signed into law.

The legacy of Dr. King is more than a tall magnificent statue that now stands on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  King’s legacy is also more than a faint remembrance of the past sacrifices and victories of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  The living legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. should be a legacy of present-day continuing the good fight for freedom, justice, equality and economic empowerment in America, Africa and everywhere in the world.  Yes, today that is a big order and a tremendous challenge.

As a young, statewide youth organizer from 1963 to 1968 for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in my home state of North Carolina, I witnessed first hand the incredible genius and courage of Dr. King. I also remember his militant band of preachers, community organizers and student leaders who had become impatient with the status quo of systematic racial injustice in the United States.  Golden Frinks, the N.C. state field secretary of SCLC recruited and introduced me to Dr. King and SCLC. Working with Dr. King changed my life for the better.

Today, my purpose is simply to apply what I believe is the living legacy of Dr. King to some of the most pressing issues that oppressed people face nationally and internationally.  Remember when Dr. King spoke out against the atrocities of the Vietnam War in 1967, there were many in the African American community who could not readily make the connection that saw between the issues of racial and economic oppression in the United States and the issues of war and peace in southeast Asia.  One of Dr. King’s famous quotes was, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It was only after Dr. King’s tragic assassination in 1968 that many shared his opposition to the Vietnam War.

Martin Luther King Jr. would not have supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In fact, there should be much louder voices now concerning the post-colonial devastating wars and violence in the Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, and in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo where millions have died.  There is just too much public silence about these and other global violent conflicts.   Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolence was non-negotiable.

Africans and African Americans as well as all people must strive to settle differences and disputes without engaging in self-destructive violence.  This in part is what I mean when I use the phrase “living legacy” of Martin Luther King.  Gun violence is down somewhat now in Chicago, but it is still too high.  Gun violence is rising in Detroit, Washington, D.C. and in Philadelphia.  SCLC, NAACP, National Urban League, National Rainbow Coalition, and the National Action Network should take on the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its policies to proliferate gun sales in America.

Support of universal health care and the Affordable Care Act should be viewed as a fundamental aspect of the living legacy of King.  We are most affected by the absence of health care delivery to our families and communities.  Yet, in too many of our communities there still appears to a slow response to the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. King new the importance of education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s).  King’s legacy demands more financial support for all HBCUs. We must also meet the challenge of curbing drop-out rates and the failures of the secondary school systems of education with respect to our communities.

Lastly, Martin Luther King’s concept of “the Beloved Community” involved economic equality and development as a means of eliminating poverty. We should be encouraging the rise and training of a new young generation of entrepreneurs.  If we want more jobs, then we have to have more businesses and employers who emerge from the communities that live in and serve.

Yes, the National Holiday for Dr. King is about remembrance and celebration. But it should also be about living the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. everywhere people are crying out for a better life through freedom, justice and equality and economic empowerment.

 

 

Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is president of Education Online Services Corporation and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and can be reached at:

http://drbenjaminfchavisjr.wix.com/drbfc

Freddie Allen is the Editor-In-Chief of the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Focused on Black people stuff, positively. You should follow Freddie on Twitter and Instagram @freddieallenjr.

#NNPA BlackPress

OP-ED: Women’s Suffrage Forged by Founding Sisters: Happy Birthday to Ida B.

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Ida B. revered the Black press as an organizing tool. Though her newspaper The Memphis Free Speech was destroyed by racist mobs, she was never silenced. During her life, she would publish three newspapers and authored “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases” and “The Red Record,” investigative reports that remain definitive sources on racist violence more than 100 years later.

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Gwen McKinney is President and Founder of McKinney & Associates Public Relations, for which she is responsible for translating the vision of "public relations with a conscience" into a sustained, bold and tested suite of communications services and activities. She is also the founder and lead collaborator for Suffrage.Race.Power.

By Gwen McKinney

“The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.”

So proclaimed Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who fearlessly shined a light with words on the abominable dark days after slavery and into the 20th century.

Journalist, publisher, author, activist, and suffragist leader, Ida B.’s spirit soars. July 16 marks the 157th anniversary of her birth. Blood, sweat, and ink sealed her legacy and the future of a nation still struggling to be whole.

Ida B. revered the Black press as an organizing tool. Though her newspaper The Memphis Free Speech was destroyed by racist mobs, she was never silenced. During her life, she would publish three newspapers and authored “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases” and “The Red Record,” investigative reports that remain definitive sources on racist violence more than 100 years later.

Small in stature but huge in courage, Wells, an emancipated slave, joined a cadre of Black contemporaries – scholars, activists, and thought leaders – who pledged to change the trajectory of bondage and demand that Black women have a voice.

They defy the clichés and caricatures planted in popular culture with their searing voices. Their cadence would not be paraphrased or translated into the often quoted “Ain’t I A Woman” reprise. But forever burdened by their womanhood and Blackness, their path – then and now – is littered with obstacles.

Educator and writer Mary Church Terrell observed, “Nobody wants to know a colored woman’s opinion about her own status [or] that of her group. When she dares express it, no matter how mild or tactful…, it is called ‘propaganda,’ or is labeled ‘controversial.’”

Poet, teacher, and Baltimore abolitionist Frances Ellen Harper was among the suffragists who pleaded the case for linked fate unity. “We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity,” she said. “Society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul.”

These Founding Sisters forged civil rights organizations with Black men, sororities, and service clubs with their women peers, and joined “woke” White women against lynching and disenfranchisement and for education and economic development.

It was Ida B. and a coterie of Black women publishers, writers, and teachers of the era who led the movement for universal suffrage even when Black women were shunned and excluded.

Nonetheless, women’s suffrage, deeply rooted in abolitionism, is depicted in a single dimension as the jumpstart for the white feminist/voting rights movement.

Regarded as social reformers, White suffragist – many of them supporters of abolition – confronted a fork in the road, conflicted between the “Negro question” and universal suffrage.

With passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870 granting Black men voting rights, universal suffrage would be sacrificed on the altar of patriarchy and white supremacy. Defended or oversimplified, the words of Susan B. Anthony, crowned the mother of women’s suffrage, illustrate the entrenched stranglehold of whiteness.

Though she counted abolitionist Frederick Douglas as an admired cohort, Anthony’s contradictions can only be measured today in the context of racism and exclusion.

“I would sooner cut off this right arm of mine before I would ever work for or demand the ballot for the black man and not the woman,” she said. One might conclude that she was seduced by the divide-and-conquer tactics of the male proponents of the 15th Amendment. But Anthony’s view was widely embraced by the White women’s suffrage movement.

Her friend and suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, arguing against the 15th Amendment, protested: “It’s better to be the slave of an educated white man than of a degraded black one.”

One year away from the centennial of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, how much ground have we gained as women and a nation? How much of the conversation about gender equality denies the overlapping impact of white nationalism, patriarchy, and privilege? Where and when do the voices of Black and Brown women enter?

But first and foremost, when do Black women get the recognition that they have earned in their unbroken march to freedom?

Our compass should be guided by that path forged by Ida B. Wells and other courageous Black women whose intersectional quest to make America stand upright changed the world.

This opening salvo embraces Suffrage. Race. Power. Spurred by my collaboration with a small collective of women that is Black-led, cross-generational, and supported by “woke” White women, we’ve named ourselves “Founding Sisters.” This space will offer regular installments that honor our Founding Sisters of the last centuries and spotlight the unfinished business of Suffrage. Race. Power.

To kick it off: Happy birthday Ida B.!

Gwen McKinney is President and Founder of McKinney & Associates Public Relations, for which she is responsible for translating the vision of “public relations with a conscience” into a sustained, bold and tested suite of communications services and activities. She is also the founder and lead collaborator for Suffrage.Race.Power.

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Op-Ed

OP-ED: Preparing for the Coming of 5G in D.C.

WASHINGTON INFORMER — Life as we know it is about to change in less than a nanosecond when 5G comes to neighborhoods in D.C. and across the U.S., and for some, it may be coming sooner than later. There’s good news and bad news.

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Washington D.C. (Photo by: washingtoninformer.com)
By WI Editorial Staff

Life as we know it is about to change in less than a nanosecond when 5G comes to neighborhoods in D.C. and across the U.S., and for some, it may be coming sooner than later. There’s good news and bad news.

The bad news surrounds the real concern that the rollout of the latest and fastest high-speed Internet technology providing wide-ranging capabilities and cellular adaptations could bypass communities of color, specifically Black people. We know the Digital Divide is real, and we implore the Black community not to ignore what’s coming, fail to prepare for it or remain ill-equipped to ask the right questions.

The good news is that those who are aware and focused on the potential of the new technology, will know what questions to ask to either welcome 5G with high expectations, or resist it until issues of safety, security, opportunities and equity are thoroughly vetted.

At a recent 5G and Communities of Color Town Hall sponsored by The Washington Informer and Washington Informer Charities, organizers were satisfied that their mission was accomplished when attendees announced they were leaving with more questions than answers about 5G to be later explored. It is imperative that all communities take a hard look at the impending deployment of the fifth-generation of cellular technology and assess for themselves the policy decisions being made about 5G before it reaches their front door.

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), who chairs the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, said at a roundtable on 5G in November 2018 that lasted nearly seven hours, “This is an exciting time in the District’s technological evolution.”

But, she acknowledged that District leaders, including advisory neighborhood commissioners, are limited in their ability to approve or disapprove aspects of 5G deployment, and she referred to the “FCC’s ruling [that] gives the federal government the power to decide how these local issues will play out, not the District” as an additional obstacle.

That’s why Montgomery County and other jurisdictions across the country are petitioning the federal courts to halt the national deployment of 5G and order the Federal Communications Commission to provide data on the safety of radio frequency emissions and its impact on human health. The FCC, according to the petition, has refused requests and is relying on 25-year-old R.F. exposure standards to determine the safety of 5G. The petitioners are concerned that these 1996 scientific standards may not adequately protect public health and safety today.

The fact is, the U.S. government has proclaimed it is in a “race to 5G” and it is determined to win against such countries as China, South Korea and Japan. To maintain its leadership position, the Trump administration has welcomed private sector technology companies to deploy 5G across the country with billions of dollars already having been invested in life-changing innovations enabling greater use of artificial intelligence, digital health, emergency communications, self-driving vehicles and smart cities.

There is no doubt that 5G is on its way. Thus, we encourage everyone to keep a watchful eye on its deployment, and explore the tremendous opportunities 5G presents, as well as generational consequences it could have.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer

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#NNPA BlackPress

OP-ED: On Juneteenth we must remember our fight for freedom continues

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The NAACP stands at a significant moment in time when racial subordination and racial hierarchy is being reinforced at the highest level of leadership in this country. The recent accounts of domestic terrorism at black churches, images of Blackface populating the airwaves, the increase in hate crimes, and Black lives senselessly taken at the hands of over policing and brutality, shows that we are living in a world that often devalues us as people who have the right to live freely.”

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“Many diverse groups, including NAACP units throughout the country, are rising up to advocate for policies that ensure that we empower communities of color to make our voices heard and implement effective strategies to address the growing impact of the rise of white nationalism and emboldened racial rhetoric.” — Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO

By Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO

On June 19, 1865, Texan slaves found out they were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, two and a half years after it was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Since then, annual celebrations of the emancipation have been referred to as Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States and honoring African American freedom and liberation.

As we have for years, we celebrate Juneteenth through food, prayer and festivities honoring a rich tradition that continues to promote education and self-improvement. We’ve seen this holiday take root within communities and organizations throughout the country, taking on a national and even global presence with a mission to promote African American culture and respect for all cultures.

But as we continue to cultivate knowledge and appreciation of our history and reflect upon the monumental challenges that our ancestors faced in fighting for freedom from bondage, we must also consider the ways in which the Black community continues to be under the threat of hate, xenophobia, and bigotry.

The NAACP stands at a significant moment in time when racial subordination and racial hierarchy is being reinforced at the highest level of leadership in this country. The recent accounts of domestic terrorism at black churches, images of Blackface populating the airwaves, the increase in hate crimes, and Black lives senselessly taken at the hands of over policing and brutality, shows that we are living in a world that often devalues us as people who have the right to live freely.

However, what we saw during the historic wave of grassroots activism that swept across the country during the 2018 midterms — with women and people of color leading the way — was an overwhelming rebuke of these heinous acts, and a show of support for an America with a bold, forward-looking and inclusive vision.

As the nation’s foremost civil rights organization, the NAACP has been a leader in the struggle to improve the lives of Black people in America. However, the historic importance and impending impact of the 2018 midterm elections, have propelled us to bring our activist roots to the forefront.

Many diverse groups, including NAACP units throughout the country, are rising up to advocate for policies that ensure that we empower communities of color to make our voices heard and implement effective strategies to address the growing impact of the rise of white nationalism and emboldened racial rhetoric.

As we celebrate Black liberation, let us continue to unite and fight together to confront the challenges we face today.

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Op-Ed

OP-ED: ‘Woe is Me’ Won’t Move the Needle, Votes Will

WASHINGTON INFORMER — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told a rally of supporters in Iowa Tuesday, June 11 that President Donald Trump is an “existential threat” to America. He offered three examples, including Trump’s threat to America’s standing in the world, his threat to America’s core values and, lastly, his threat to American democracy. Whether one agrees with Biden’s conclusions about Trump, we agree with his observation that too many Americans are “walking around with our heads down like ‘woe is me.’”

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President Donald Trump (Photo by: Gage Skidmore | Wiki Commons)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told a rally of supporters in Iowa Tuesday, June 11 that President Donald Trump is an “existential threat” to America. He offered three examples, including Trump’s threat to America’s standing in the world, his threat to America’s core values and, lastly, his threat to American democracy. Whether one agrees with Biden’s conclusions about Trump, we agree with his observation that too many Americans are “walking around with our heads down like ‘woe is me.’”

As resilient as the American people are, and as forgiving as African Americans can be, there is measurable fatigue spreading across the country due to Trump’s broken promises to remake America and other politicians’ promises to fix America. The ‘woe’ is growing as Americans feel the loss of hope and experience increased fears tied to unaffordable housing, massive student loans, the threat of losing health care due to threatened limits on pre-existing conditions and uninsured losses caused by floods or fires. In Black and brown communities, rampant gun violence continues to take a toll, while targeted police attacks frequently leading to death and a widespread drug abuse crisis are causing increased despair.

Biden, who is reportedly leading among the 24 Democratic presidential hopefuls, must realize his reflection of America of the past does not sit well in the hearts and minds of Black voters. Neither do Trump’s insults of Biden, calling him a “dummy” as well as others who he opposes.

Voters want more than that. They need to hear messages of hope, but more importantly, they need assurances that politicians will stop their political posturing and cease the practice of offering lip service to the critical needs of voters.

Voters must muster up interest and maintain activism over the long haul of the next 18 months to force political hopefuls to stay focused on the real issues affecting their lives because “woe is me” won’t move the needle. Only their voices and votes will.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer

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African American News & Issues

OP-ED: OREO or REO, No Matter Carson Is Still Trump’s Guy

AFRICAN AMERICAN NEWS & ISSUES — When word leaked out that Trump would appoint Ben Carson as HUD Secretary, no one seemed more taken aback than Carson. He publicly declared that he had no experience running a government agency. Many took this to mean that even Carson knew that he was way over his head in trying to run an agency tasked with overseeing and administering the dizzying array of programs. How dizzying? HUD ladles out billions annually in public housing subsidies, rental assistance, and housing finance activities, employs more than 8000 workers and administrators and operates more than 100 subsidy programs. HUD’s task is to shore up America’s perennial housing needs, especially for the poor.

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Ben Carson holding OREO cookies (Photo: twitter.com/SecretaryCarson)

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

When word leaked out that Trump would appoint Ben Carson as HUD Secretary, no one seemed more taken aback than Carson. He publicly declared that he had no experience running a government agency. Many took this to mean that even Carson knew that he was way over his head in trying to run an agency tasked with overseeing and administering the dizzying array of programs. How dizzying? HUD ladles out billions annually in public housing subsidies, rental assistance, and housing finance activities, employs more than 8000 workers and administrators and operates more than 100 subsidy programs. HUD’s task is to shore up America’s perennial housing needs, especially for the poor.

Still, to think that Carson might say no to the job, they misread Carson and Trump. Trump wanted him for two obvious reasons, and one less obvious. One, he owed Carson big time for withstanding all the abuse heaped on him for being the lonely Black to tout Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. The other tracked back to the first reason. He is Black and Trump needed at least one name Black as a cover to parade around to prove he was not the racist that Blacks near universally are amply convinced he is.

Then there was the other reason. By the time Trump took the oath of office, Carson had carved out a well-documented reputation as being a first-class ignoramus with a litany of off-beat, nonsensical quips on anything that came to mind such as calling the Affordable Care Act the worst thing since slavery.

This was the stuff of snickers, chuckles, and lampooning when Carson was simply private citizen Carson, or, the mercifully brief, failed GOP presidential candidate Carson. Few then could ever imagine that Carson would ever be able to act on any of his rabid antique ultra-right notions of how a government should be run. However, as Trump’s HUD boss, he was in the perfect position to give free rein to his basest impulses about government.

He could a lambast housing discrimination suits, over-dependence on “social safety net” programs, getting government out of competition with private enterprise, and denouncing anything that supposedly deadens individual initiative. He could talk about kicking undocumented workers out of public housing, while scraping investigations into civil rights abuses in public housing.

This is more than political theater of the absurd. It gets even more attention for Trump. But more importantly, Carson’s laughable forays into ignorant gaffes such as the mix-up of OREO with REO touches a deep, dark, and throbbing pulse among legions of Trump backers who frankly revel in his digs, cracks and insults and name calling of Democrats. The revelry in Trump’s personal mudslinging is on dramatic evidence at every Trump rally when he takes a personal shot at some Democrat whipping person or another.

This calculated know nothingness in 2016 did much to put Trump in the White House. Trump banks on the same dirt slapping, name calling to do the same in 2020. So, just think, given that, how would it look for Carson to go before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services and sound erudite, polished, and knowledgeable on the fine details of housing policy. That, of course, would include being thoroughly versed on what an REO is.

This might draw some praise and grudging respect from some Democrats. But it wouldn’t mean a thing to Trump’s base since many of them already think that HUD is just another bloated, wasteful government agency that needs to be privatized or simply scrapped. Carson recognized that his know nothing confusion on what an REO is had some political shelf value. He quickly posed with a knowing grin on his face holding a box of OREO cookies. He topped by taking a crack at the Committee member who posed the embarrassing question to him. The message seemed to be so what if I don’t know the difference between cookies from a piece of property foreclosed on by a bank.

Trump understands the fundamental political axiom that self-interest rules politics as well, if not better, then the Democrats. Party leaders have long known that many blue-collar white voters, especially male voters, can be easily aroused to vote and shout on the emotional wedge issues: abortion, family values, anti-gay marriage and tax cuts.

Carson again fits neatly into this script. He’s an African American with name identification who once had some admiration among blacks. But that’s past. He’s now simply a serviceable tool that Trump can use to play a version of the race card. That is to depict him, a Black man, as a victim of allegedly closet racist Democrats who seethe at the notion of a Black man who dares have the express views that don’t parrot the Democratic Party’s positions. Any attack on Carson plays to that, and that includes the lampoon and ridicule of him by Democrats for his OREO-REO mix-up.

So, OREO or REO, it’s all the same. Carson is just being Carson. And for Trump and his fervent backers that’s all the counts. He’s still Trump’s guy.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of Why Black Lives Do Matter (Middle Passage Press) He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.

This article originally appeared in the African American News & Issues

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Economy

OP-ED: Legislative proposal will lower the cost of health care

NASHVILLE PRIDE — Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate have announced a proposal of nearly three-dozen specific provisions that will reduce the cost of what Tennesseans pay for health care. These are common sense steps we can take, and every single one of them has the objective of reducing the health care costs that you pay for out of your own pocket.

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Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

By Sen. Lamar Alexander

If there’s one issue I hear about most from Tennesseans, it is ‘What are you going to do about the health care costs I pay for out of my own pocket?’ Well, I’ve got an answer.

Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate have announced a proposal of nearly three-dozen specific provisions that will reduce the cost of what Tennesseans pay for health care. These are common sense steps we can take, and every single one of them has the objective of reducing the health care costs that you pay for out of your own pocket.

Here are just a few ways our proposal would lower the cost of health care for Tennesseans:

• Stop surprise medical bills so Tennesseans don’t get an unexpected bill of up to several thousand dollars from an out-of-network doctor after a hospital visit.

• Lower the cost of prescription drugs for example, by bringing low cost drugs to market faster for patients by increasing competition.

• Restore discipline to the health care market. This would be done by banning gag clauses that prevent employers from letting their employees know that a knee replacement might cost $15,000 in one hospital and $35,000 at another hospital.

• Help Tennesseans lead healthier lives, for example, by making it easier to access specialty care, especially for those living in rural areas.

• Make it as easy to get your personal medical records as it is to book an airplane flight. Improving electronic health records will also allow doctors to spend less time on paperwork and more time with patients.

High health care costs are a drain on taxpayer dollars, eat up employer budgets and (most importantly) are a top financial concern for Tennessee families. So my hope is to move this legislation through the Senate health committee that I chair in June, put it on the Senate floor in July and make it law.

Health insurance has gotten a lot of attention lately. President Trump said last month that ‘‘deductibles, in many cases, are way over $7,000, making it almost worthless or unusable.’’

I agree. High deductibles tied to high premiums make health care inaccessible for too many Tennesseans. But the truth is you can’t lower the cost health insurance until you lower the cost of health care, and the proposal announced this week aims to do just that.

Some on the other side of the aisle propose to resolve the problems surrounding our nation’s health care system with ‘Medicare for All.’

Well, if you get your insurance on the job, as more than half of Tennesseans currently do, your insurance would essentially be taken away under this Medicare for All system. And if you are currently on Medicare, who would pay your medical bills when we add 181 million more people to Medicare’s system that is going to be bankrupt in seven years?

Our proposal is a far better solution to the problem of expensive health care in our country. The federal government is not going to lower the cost of health care overnight, but I believe there are steps we can take that would make a real difference to Tennessee families, and we shouldn’t allow this opportunity to make progress pass us by.

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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