Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) headlined the start of a campaign against Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare Saturday night before some 1,000 people in the Pittsburgh Convention Center, calling the GOP proposals an unconscionable “moral outrage.”
“This so-called health care bill passed in the House last month is the most anti-working-class piece legislation passed by the House of Representatives in the modern history of this country,” said Sanders. “And the Senate bill ... is even worse.”
“We will not allow 23 million Americans to be thrown off of the health insurance they currently have in order to give over $500 billion in tax breaks to the top two percent, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, and to other multi-national corporations,” he said, referring to the effects of the House bill as reported by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
“What kind of a country are we if anyone can come before you and talk about cutting health care for children with disabilities in order to give tax breaks to the richest people on earth?”
The 30-minute speech was the first of Sander’s “Don’t Take Away Our Healthcare” tour to rally opposition to the GOP proposals that, among other things, would slash funding for Medicaid.
Sanders has joined forces with MoveOn.org for a bus tour that will include stops in Columbus, Ohio, and Charleston, West Virginia. It’s part of a push to convince Republican Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia to vote against the Senate health care bill Thursday.
Sanders said that while Obamacare has its faults, “we should improve it, not destroy it.” He called on the U.S. to “join the rest of the industrialized world” in its approach to health care. “We are the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right,” he said.
Sanders urged an even more inclusive insurance system ― a kind of “Medicare for all.” That “is where we have to go, and clearly the momentum from California to Maine is with us,” he said to wild cheers.
Sanders presented the health care battle as one in a growing war between the wealthiest in the nation and the most vulnerable. He railed against growing income and wealth inequality in a nation where the top one-tenth of one percent of the population owns “almost as much wealth” as the lower 90 percent combined.
Beyond the details of the “disastrous” Republican proposals, “we are talking about a very profound moral issue,” Sanders said. “A great nation is not judged by the number of millionaires and billionaires it has ... it’s judged by its compassion and by how well it treats the most vulnerable people in this country,” he said.
“It is a moral outrage that this nation will never live down if we take health care from the most vulnerable to give tax breaks to the very rich.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.