Top Republican Says Poor People Should Stop Buying iPhones, Buy Health Insurance Instead

Yesterday, the Republican party finally unveiled its new plan to replace Obamacare. And nobody knows how much it will cost or how many people will lose coverage under it. One thing we do know? House Republican Jason Chaffetz is a turd.

Chaffetz told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota this morning that Americans might have to decide between their smartphone and having health insurance. The Republicans have spent the past seven years saying that they want to scrap the Affordable Care Act, but haven’t given much in the way of specifics. But Chaffetz more or less just gave away the big conceit: You’re going to have to cut back on modern “luxuries” like a phone if you want health insurance.

Generally, Republicans say that they want to give people more “access” to healthcare. But during this morning’s interview with Chaffetz, Camerota pointed out access isn’t the same thing as having some real health insurance.


“Access for lower income Americans doesn’t equal coverage,” Camerota pointed out, as so many other people like Bernie Sanders have.

“Well, we’re getting rid of the individual mandate. We’re getting rid of those things that people said that they don’t want,” Chaffetz answered. “And you know what, Americans have choices. And they’ve gotta make a choice.”

“And so maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest that in their own healthcare,” Chaffetz continued.

After trying to rationalize the changes, Camerota flatly asked, “More access, so possibly less coverage? That might be the byproduct?”


“Well, yes, yes, I think that’s fair, but we’re just now consuming this,” Chaffetz said, apparently referring to the proposed replacement bill only being made public late yesterday.

The entire debate seems reminiscent of the time Fox News ran a story about how lucky poor people are for having things like refrigerators. “Ninety-nine percent of [poor families] have a refrigerator,” Fox host Stuart Varney said in a segment back in 2012. “Eighty-one percent have a microwave, 78 percent have air conditioning, 63 percent have cable TV.”

Screenshot of a 2012 Fox News segment about how lucky poor people are for having appliances like refrigerators (Fox News)
Screenshot of a 2012 Fox News segment about how lucky poor people are for having appliances like refrigerators (Fox News)

Chaffetz seems to be using the same logic. Why are all these poors spending money on things like phones when they should be spending their money on not dying? Those bastards.


Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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Personal responsibility should not be shunned and he is not all that wrong. It may not be a popular statement, and it may hurt peoples feelings or offend them... but spend money responsibly. I have a buddy that used a go phone for YEARS because that is all he could afford. When he finally got some pay raises and his wife started working her career job so finances were more stable he upgraded to a smart phone. Why is that such a big deal? Why is this guy being shamed for expecting people to make SMART decisions with their money? Cover your bills first, when those are paid for(including health insurance) the money you have left over can go to luxury items.