Rep. John Lewis compares opposition to Obamacare to racism

Alex Pappas | Political Reporter

Georgia Rep. John Lewis on Tuesday compared Republican opposition to President Obama’s health-care law to racism.

The Democratic lawmaker made the comments comparing the Republican resistance to Obamacare to the opposition to civil rights in the the 1950s during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing with Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Referencing the numerous Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare over the last several years, Lewis said: “Just reminds me of another period in our history. Not so long ago during the 50s, many Southern senators signed a Southern Manifesto after the Supreme Court decision of 1954. And those senators — along with many Southern governors — subscribed to the doctrine of interposition and notification and some even massive resistance.”

“That’s what we saw on the part of the Republican members of the House and some of the Republicans in the Senate,” he said of GOP attempts to defund Obamacare.

Ironically, while Lewis used the Southern Manifesto — which was in opposition to integration — to attack Republicans, 97 of the 99 politicians who signed it in 1956 were Democrats.

Speaking about Obamacare Tuesday, Lewis said that he believes “health care is the right and not a privilege.”

“The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land,” Lewis said. “It was passed by the Congress, signed into law by the president of the United States and upheld by the United States Supreme Court. There have been more than 40 attempts to repeal the act and it did not succeed. By attempting to repeal it, members of this body, members on the other side of the aisle, closed down this government and threatened the economy for the united states, costing us more than $24 billion.”

The committee used the hearing on Tuesday to ask Tavenner questions about the botched roll out of the health care law and problems with its website, which has prevented people from being able to sign up for health benefits.

On Tuesday, Tavenner said: “I want to apologize to you that the website is not working as well as it should.”

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