In case you missed it, I’d like to share with you a letter to the editor from Tom Goodrum that appeared in the May 11th issue of the Austin American-Statesman.
You are the focus of the letter, but I have to warn you ahead of time that the writer does not hold you in a good light. But if you are just a little bit curious as to what nearly half of your constituents think of you, please read on.
Re: May 3 commentary, “Restaurants open, and Chip Roy takes his family for Tex-Mex.”
Rep. Chip Roy and his family’s callous disregard for the safety of Elia Montoya, their food server, and everyone else while dining at Juan in a Million was stunning to observe. We’re told that one can be contagious for COVID-19 for two weeks, and that there may be no symptoms. Rep. Roy admits that he has been on planes and in Washington in the last 14 days. The Texas Department of State Health Services’ latest guidance states that individuals should “maintain at least 6 feet separation from other individuals not within the same household. If such distancing is not feasible, other measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation should be rigorously practiced.”
Why on earth would the Roy family flaunt the state’s health protocols and endanger Juan in a Million’s staff, their families, and other customers and their families as well? Politics.
Tom Goodrum, Austin
Like I said Representative Roy, Goodrum’s letter was very tough on you, yet deservedly so.
For a Representative who doesn’t put the health of his constituents at risk,
S., Austin TX
Texas has the highest percentage of medically uninsured people in the United States! This is not a statistic you, as my Congressional House Representative for Texas District 21, should be proud of. Now, on top of that shameful statistic, in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump and the Republican Party are trying to strike down, in its entirety, the Affordable Care Act! Because of the Trump administration’s botched response to the Coronavirus, we now have 33 million people unemployed, many millions now without any medical insurance. This will leave millions more people without any healthcare. Yet still there is no Republican replacement plan for Obamacare! Chip Roy, the Freedom Saving Accounts you continue to promote, most recently in your interview with Evan Smith, is definitely not the solution. Could you, Chip Roy, have funded your cancer treatments from a glorified health savings account? One thing this pandemic has clearly shown us is that our current ‘for profit’ healthcare system is an abject failure. It is time to accept the need for a serious change. We need to move, like the rest of the civilized world, to a Universal Healthcare system, such as Medicare for all, where everyone is covered, regardless of job or personal wealth. Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege! When will you and the rest of the Republican Party come to realize this? Maybe after you are kicked out of office in November! I suggest you pack your bags Mr. Roy.
B., Austin TX
Here are questions I would like you to answer regarding how to help working people and the poor survive during the pandemic.
- What systems will be in place so that workers on Unemployment can, if they choose, accept the work that is offered to them, even if it pays less or offers fewer hours and benefits? How can they be assured that they will still be able to feed their families, pay their rent, keep their health care, and, perhaps most importantly, work in a safe environment?
- What is the Federal Government doing to protect the lives and health of workers deemed to be essential, such as janitors, sanitation workers, drivers and delivery workers, and those working in meat packing plants? What systems will be put in place to ensure the safety of these workers, even if it means that production lines or order fulfillment might be slowed down?
- What will be done to protect populations who are forced to live or work in close quarters, such as nursing or group home residents, prison inmates, and ICE detainees, as well as those who work with these populations? Because even if we openly admit that we do not value the lives of these people, if we consider them to be somehow less human than ourselves, or if we believe that they are to be blamed for their situation, it remains true that the virus cares nothing for such moral judgments and will not respect the class distinctions that are so near and dear to some of our hearts. In other words, the virus may indeed begin its spread among the people we think are inferior to ourselves, but it will not stay there.
So I ask you what is the Federal Government, Congress and the Trump Administration, doing to protect us all from this scourge?
M., Austin TX
I have a couple of simple questions having to do with the response by Congress and by the Trump Administration to the coronavirus. I hope you will answer at least one of them.
- Where are the tests, and what will the Federal Government do to coordinate testing efforts in the various states?
- What will the Trump Administration and Congress do to institute and maintain effective programs of contact tracing?
- Where are the detailed guidelines that states and local authorities can use to make crucial decisions about reopening and, when needed, shutting back down during localized outbreaks?
- What will the Federal Government do to support at-risk health care workers, including doctors, nurses, janitors, food service workers, and everyone else who is unable to work from home?
- How will the Federal Government protect the lives and ensure the safety of essential and nonessential workers so that they do not become the expendable workers?
I realize that the needs of various communities will always differ somewhat, and decisions about specific responses to outbreaks will always need to be made at the state and local levels. No one is denying this. But this in no way obviates the need for Federal guidance, coordination, and oversight.
M., Austin TX
I am appalled by the misrepresentations by you that imply that some Texans are somehow making more money on unemployment than they earned while working. This is absolutely not true, since, as you well know, benefits are calculated based on your recent income and will necessarily never exceed or even reach the highest amount of those earnings. When people turn down work because they will receive more money on unemployment than they will earn at the job, this by necessity means that they are being offered much less than they earned before, less, in reality than they can be expected to live on.
During my lifetime, I have received several forms of public benefits, including Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, Section 8 housing, Social Security Disability, and unemployment benefits. Of course, I also worked for decades before retiring. But I have a lifelong disability that made it difficult for me to get and maintain employment for many of my so-called working age years, from 18 to 65. I did not particularly enjoy being on these benefits, though I was extremely grateful that they were there.
But there were times that I was indeed afraid to take employment and get off them. This was not because I was lazy, that I believe I was some kind of privileged character who deserved not to work. On the contrary. I very much wanted to work. But I knew that once I got off the benefits, I would lose my safety net, including a steady income, health care, food, and shelter. Taking a job was risky because I was afraid that if I made even the smallest mistake, or if I was perceived to have done so, I would have nothing to fall back on.
Punishing people for receiving benefits, Making it degrading, erecting barriers does not somehow magically make people able to live on nothing but stone soup. Instead, people need some assurance that accepting work will not deprive them of their access to health care, shelter, and food. In other words, the benefits should not just be snatched away because the person is working. If you want people to work instead of being on benefits, then reward them for working by letting them keep some of their benefits instead of taking them away as soon as possible.
But as usual, you find ways to excoriate the poor and blame them for all manner of ills, all from the comfort of your office. It must be nice! You have never had to work for low pay in dangerous working conditions. You have never had to face the fear of employment discrimination. You have no right to say the things you are saying. Please stop and think before launching your thumbs into hurtful actions.
M., Austin TX
Dear Rep. Roy,
I hope you read the Washington Post’s May 9th article about Prestige Ameritech, a Texas company that makes medical equipment for America’s Strategic National Stockpile. The company’s owner, Michael Bowen, tried in vain last January to get the federal government to order N95 face masks from its supply lines. The Trump administration ignored this opportunity to buy millions of American-made PPE units when they were needed. As a result, America has had to buy masks at inflated prices, piecemeal, leaving healthcare workers exposed to the coronavirus.
Where were you when the last major American manufacturer of PPE, doing business in the state you claim to love so much, was trying to do the patriotic thing and provide equipment that would save American lives? According to your Twitter feed, you were obsessing about the national debt, “cartel terrorists,” and banning homeless people in Austin. You attended a fundraiser in Alamo Heights. You tweeted excerpts from your anti-impeachment screed in the National Review. You promoted your attendance at a Texas Public Policy Foundation event. You retweeted a laughable op-ed that claimed Donald Trump was “leading the fight against anti-Semitism.” And you were touting your “pro-life” beliefs at the Texas Rally for Life, which you tweeted about over a dozen times as Bowen was being ignored.
Because no one listened to warnings like Michael Bowen’s, 85,000 Americans are now dead. A Texas company that tried to save American lives instead sold its goods to China and other countries—the free market at work—and we are scrambling to source foreign-made protective gear. A Texas-owned business that could have benefitted from federal spending saw that money instead go to overseas manufacturers and middlemen. And even now, you are doing nothing to facilitate the supply of PPE or tests needed to safely reopen our economy.
Rep. Roy, you aren’t pro-life, pro-business, or pro-Texas. Either live your professed values, or shut up about them.
S., Austin TX