In schools across America, most children are taught that food, shelter, and clothing are basic needs. But one GOP senator considers these tools for survival a “privilege,” not a right.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) spoke to high school students in his home state on Friday, and one student in the audience asked, in the face of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, if Johnson believes healthcare is a “privilege or a right.” Johnson went on to claim it’s the former, not the latter.
“Do you consider food a right?” the senator asked the students, WISN 12 reports. “Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right? What we have as rights is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Past that point, we have the right to freedom. Past that point is a limited resource that we have to use our opportunities given to us to afford those things.”
Like many Republican senators, Johnson believes engaging with (and succeeding on) the free market is the key to healthcare. Instead of making it a universal right, Johnson criticized state-funded medical care, encouraging lawmakers to improve the economy so as many people as possible can afford healthcare.
“I think it’s obviously a privilege to have food and shelter,” he said. “What we need to do as public officials is try and have our economy healthy so that we have as much prosperity as possible so that we can actually increase the resources available for as high a quality and highly accessible health care as we possibly can.”
Johnson, of course, supports repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with a Republican-backed healthcare system, which could leave millions uninsured. So far, the GOP’s plans for healthcare haven’t passed the Senate, leaving the ACA in-tact for now.