Democratic members of Congress rallied on the Lower East Side Saturday to warn that Donald Trump-led GOP plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act would “Make America Sick Again,” while critics of the president later staged a mock funeral to mourn what they lamented as the “death” of the American presidency.
On Saturday morning, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn) chided her Republican colleagues for proposing to dismantle the health law without a meaningful alternative.
“They’re talking about ‘repeal and replace,’ but we haven’t seen a plan,” Velázquez said. “This is ‘repeal and displace,’ because it will take health insurance from millions of Americans.”
Naomi Nemtzow, 67, of Park Slope, Brooklyn, and her husband, Peter Casanave, 72, credited former President Barack Obama’s health care law with saving the life of their daughter, who was stricken with cancer in 2012 at 23.
Unusual symptoms led to tests that diagnosed a rare cancerous tumor in her skull, said Nemtzow, who held a sign she made: “the ACA saved my daughter’s life!”
“She may well have died or else we would have had to sell our house and be bankrupt. I don’t know what,” said Nemtzow, a college administrator.
Later Saturday, in New Orleans-style jazz rites, women shrouded in veils and men in all black crowded around a coffin in Washington Square Park in Manhattan, chanting a contemptuous twist on the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
“Amazing disgrace — how sick the sight / Such hateful lunacy / America must stand and fight / To save democracy,” hundreds sang.
Organizers said the presidency could be resurrected “through political action and involvement.”
Saturday’s events represented the latest front in the political left’s resistance to the Republican president’s agenda: Nearly each weekend since the presidential election has brought protests, which intensified after his Jan. 20 inauguration.
On fill-in-the-blank placards declaring “I am in mourning for the death of,” attendees scrawled issues on which they disagree with Trump: Financial regulation, gun restrictions, environmental protection and “racial and religious tolerance.” The group marched to Union Square after a singalong.
“We’ve allowed a barely functional idiot reality-TV show star to lead one of the once-great, proud political parties of this country,” said funeral organizer Jay W. Walker, 49, of midtown and the group Rise and Resist.