South Carolina’s 6th District Congressman James Clyburn took a lead in Congress to pass the controversial health care law. He stands by the White House contention that the individual mandate is not a tax. He says that it will be a penalty applied to a very few.
“You levy a tax by imposing something on the public, this is not an imposition on the public,” Clyburn says. “It only applies to the one to two percent of the ‘laggards’ –if you please– in our society who decide at 21 or 22 years old, I’m going to live forever and I’ll use insurance when I need it.”
Rep Clyburn says he remembers nay-sayers who said Medicare, Medicaid and the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964 were too expensive to implement.
He responds to statements that Gov. Nikki Haley and state Medicaid director Tony Keck want to opt-out of expanded Medicaid in the state.
“I remember those arguments that the state couldn’t afford it. I remember arguments against the minimum wage –companies would go out of business. I don’t think we can afford not to have this,” Clyburn says.
“I consider this the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century,” Clyburn says. “And people are responding to it the way they responded to the civil rights acts of 1964, 65, 68 and 72.”
Like the civil rights laws, Clyburn says it will take years and stages. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was really four distinctive acts over a period of eight years. I think people are going to rise up about this; people are going to rise up about health care.”
But he is quick to say he is not talking about race.
“Income, Medicaid is not about race. There are more white people on Medicaid than black people. There are about three or four times more white people on Medicaid than black people ” he says. “What makes anybody think that civil rights must only apply to black people? Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Of all the inequalities he’d seen in the world, the inequality in health care was the most egregious.’”
His fellow members of the SC congressional delegation– all Republicans– have vowed to repeal the law.
“I’m going to say it to Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor, ‘Good luck with that.’ They’re just playing to their base. Just remember, we are the last so-called developed country to do this. All the others have done it.”