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In Wisconsin, Suspicion of Big Government

On the farm in Wisconsin. (Photo by Deepak Dobhal)
On the farm in Wisconsin. (Photo by Deepak Dobhal)

Editor's Note: VOA reporters recently traveled to rural areas along the Mississippi River to speak with the "forgotten men and women" who are supporters of President Donald Trump. They spoke to farmers, factory workers, and retirees in largely white, Christian middle class communities. This is one of their stories.

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Off a road in rural Wisconsin sits a 57-year-old American working in an open garage.

He makes a small amount of money by selling metal parts from broken equipment.

Until two years ago, the man worked as a dairy farmer. He had 24 cows to milk. But, like many small dairy farmers, he was unable to compete with larger farms.

The man says the Affordable Care Act -- the health insurance program known as Obamacare -- hurt his business. Under the law, Americans are required to take part in the program if they do not have a health insurance policy.

The former farmer says Obamacare forced him and many of his friends to spend more money than they could afford for a product they did not want. He says years of insensitive government policies have fueled anger and questions about programs designed to improve American lives.

The man is like many Americans who voted for Donald Trump last year after supporting Barack Obama in earlier presidential elections. He says that people in Trempealeau County no longer trust traditional politicians.

“All the money goes to the cities,” he says. “All the people in the rural areas this time said ‘we’ve had enough.’”

The former farmer says he voted for Trump mainly because he did not like the Affordable Care Act. But he admits Obamacare has helped him.

Two years ago, he was unable to work because of an infection in his leg. Doctors performed an emergency operation. Today, most of his earnings come from a government program for disabled Americans.

Government estimates show that more than 200,000 formerly uninsured people in Wisconsin now have health care because of ObamaCare. Estimates also show that more than two million Americans have additional benefits.

But the former farmer says almost everyone else he knows did not get sick or injured since they signed up for Obamacare. He says many of them had to pay a lot of money for the policy.

He says even if he did want it, it should have been his decision and not a requirement. He says the government should not have forced him to buy the insurance.

The man asked VOA not to release his name because he fears he will be spied on. He said people should not believe anyone who says they supported Trump for reasons other than their anger over the Affordable Care Act.

VOA Correspondent Heather Murdock reported this story from Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

garage – n. a building or part of a building in which a car, truck, etc., is kept

part – n. one of the pieces that are put together to form a machine

insurance – n. an agreement in which a person makes regular payments to a company and the company promises to pay money if the person needs health care

afford – v. to be able to pay for (something)

benefits – n. something extra (such as vacation time or health insurance) that is given by an employer to workers in addition to their regular pay