The Consequences of Freedom Caucus Obstruction

Every day, 14 people overdose on opioids in Ohio. That’s 12% of the daily opioid overdoses in the entire country. And the opioid death toll in Ohio is increasing at dramatic rates -- 33% between 2015 and 2016 alone.

These deaths aren’t just statistics. They are real people who are suffering, both from their tragic addiction and from poor representation, failed legislation, and predatory drug companies. In Ohio, and across America, we need all the help we can get to fight this epidemic.

In the face of this escalation, we need leaders working around the clock to stop the rising death and destruction. But Jim Jordan has proven to be completely indifferent to this crisis. In fact, his website fails to even mention opioids.

Not only is Jim Jordan ignoring the opioid epidemic, he supports rolling back the very programs that are stemming the tide of death and despair. He voted for cuts to Medicaid that would make fighting addiction even more difficult. And in a town hall, he had the gall to say that he didn’t support accepting federal money to fight the opioid epidemic because it should be solved by “churches and schools and families and communities” -- as if they aren’t already working every day to solve this devastating problem.

Who are Jim Jordan’s out-of-touch Washington priorities supposed to be helping? Not the families and communities being torn apart by opioids. Not the health centers struggling to keep up with the increased demand for services. Not the neighborhood support groups and churches that are already pushed to their limits.

Instead, he’s helping the opioid manufacturers who have given him thousands of dollars from during his political career -- and his Freedom Caucus cronies who would rather watch American citizens die and communities be torn apart than come to the negotiating table for life-saving increases in funding.

This epidemic won’t wait for Jim Jordan to waste another term. We need action now.

When I’m in Congress, I will support funding the social programs that shore up local clinics on the front lines. I will support severe criminal charges for doctors caught running pill mills and fight for stronger national regulation of opioid prescriptions. I will make sure that drug manufacturers foot the bill for the epidemic of addiction that they helped cause.

You see, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this crisis, and how to save lives and ultimately beat this thing. I’ve thought about prevention and treatment, about law enforcement’s role and how to mobilize community leaders. In fact, just this week I participated in a roundtable in Marion on the opioid epidemic. Doctors, addiction specialists, and community activists all gathered around to talk about what’s working, what needs to change, and how our elected officials can help.

The consensus is clear: we can’t win by ignoring the problem. And we can’t win by refusing to work with anyone who doesn’t conform to our radical ideology. We win by coming together with people working on the ground and listening to experts. And we win by forgetting our partisan identities and remembering our shared humanity.

I promise you that the people struggling with addiction in Ohio today aren’t worried about whether their doctor, their counselor, or their representative has an R or a D next to their name. They don’t care where their help comes from. They just need help -- the help that Jim Jordan and the Freedom Caucus have denied them for too long. When I represent Ohio’s 4th district, I promise, I’ll never forget the people who need help the most.

Janet GarrettComment