In a discussion on the disgraceful travesty of hunger amongst senior citizens, American senior citizens, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) stood up. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) did not.
Now, you may think “so what? This was entirely predictable.” But despite that, this video perfectly illustrates a major philosophical difference between Republicans and most other people. And that difference is that Republicans, as was illustrated so well in this discussion, simply do not care.
Republicans are for and by the wealthy, and have no qualms about throwing our most vulnerable citizens under the proverbial bus.Rand Paul might just as well have said "let them eat cake", because that is precisely what he meant.
TRANSCRIPT (transcribed by myself)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Making sure that seniors have the nutrition that they need is not only the right and moral thing to do, it is the financially smart thing to do.
It is estimated today that 5 million seniors face the threat of hunger, 3 million seniors are at risk of hunger, and 1 million seniors go hungry because they can not afford to buy food.
But in some cases it's not just money. In some cases it's the transportation to get to the store. In some cases it's the ability to think through when you're 85 or 90 and alone what kind of food you need and how you purchase it. Persistent hunger and malnutrition leads to multiple chronic diseases, resulting in extended hospital stays and premature nursing home placements. There's some studies out there that are quite sure about significant percentage of seniors today who are in nursing homes who need not be in that expensive care if they had good nutrition and somebody visiting them on a regular basis. That seems to me to be pretty dumb.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN): Make no mistake, Rand (Sen. Rand Paul), The Older Americans Act saves money. It allows seniors to stay in their homes who wouldn't otherwise be able to stay in their homes.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): It's curious that, uh, only in Washington can you spend 2 biliion dollars and claim that you're saving money. Here's a thought. Perhaps the 2 billian dollars we spend on OAA if we subsumed that in to another program and didn't spend it, that might be saving money.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Senator Paul has suggested that only in Washington can people actually believe that spending money actually saves money. I think that is the kind of philosophy which results in us spending almost twice as much on healthcare as any other country on earth. Because we have millions and millions of Americans who can't get to a doctor on time, some of them die, some of them become very, very ill. They end up in the emergency room, they end up in a hospital at great cost rather than making sure they have access to a doctor. Maybe it's the same reason why we have more people in jail than any other country on earth including China, tied to the fact that we have the highest poverty rate among children than any other major country on earth. So the point is, and I think we have a bit of a difference here, I believe, and I think Senator Franken has spoken to the fact that prevention, keeping people healthy, taking care of their needs at home, does actually save money. And that if you deny those resources, you leave a senior citizen at home today alone, isolated, confused about medicine, not getting the nutrition they need, you know what happens to that person? That person collapses. That person ends up in an emergency room. That person ends up in a nursing home at much greater cost to the system.
SEN. AL FRANKEN: Here's my very precise question. Does the Older Americans Act save taxpayers money by allowing seniors to stay in their homes as opposed to going to nursing homes?
MS. GREENLEE, Assistant Secretary, Administration on Aging: Yes Senator.
SEN. AL FRANKEN: Thank you.
SEN. RAND PAUL: Um, I appreciate the great and very, um, I think collegial discussion, And we do have different opinions, you know, some of us believe more in the ability of government to cure problems, and some of us believe more in the ability of private charity to cure these problems. I guess what I still find curious is though that if we are saving money with the 2 billion dollars we spend, perhaps we should give you 20 billion. Is there a limit? Where would we get to? How much money should we give you in order to save money so if we spend federal money to save money, where is the limit? I think we could reach a point of absurdity. Thank you.
SEN. AL FRANKEN: I think you just did (reach a point of absurdity).
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Uh, I would suggest, Senator Paul, when you have seniors in this country who are dealing with food insecurity, who are not getting the nutrition that they need, my guess is that the government is wasting substantial sums of money by not taking care of those seniors, who will end up in emergency rooms, in hospitals, uh, and in nursing homes, so, you asked that question, my answer is I don't want to see one senior in this country go hungry. It's the morally right thing to do, and from a fiscally conservative point of view, saving government money, in my view it is the right thing to do.