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Maybe they really are evil

Fri, Dec 14th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Internet chatter in the so called blogosphere is nasty and vitriolic. Main street media is not much better with both major political ideologies demonizing and calling the other evil.

I have been concerned about Bush's intellect and Cheney's cerebral oxygen supply during his heart attacks for some time. I didn't think they were actually evil. Until now it was a matter of ineptitude and incompetence that was the reason for Iraq, their amassing a huge national debt after inheriting a surplus, Katrina, loss of moral standing in the world after Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and torture. I won't include a ragtag group that actually attacked us is still loose and running around in a country the administration still calls our ally.

Now they really have done it. I'm so mad I could just spit. Bush has repeatedly vetoed the States Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This is just meanness coupled with pandering to the Republicans avowed, but often ignored, fiscal conservatism. SCHIP has been the most efficient and successful means of providing healthcare to our future; our kids.

His stated reasons are:

1. It is too expensive.

2. It doesn't serve just poor children.

3. It is the beginning of a slippery slope to "socialized Medicine".

4. He has said, "I don't want the federal government making decisions for doctors and customers".

Let's take these in reverse order. The program gives block grants to states and allows them, within limits, to determine how it is spent. They must provide private insurance to children; enroll them in Medicaid, or some combination. None of the paper work or clinical decisions has ever gone back to Washington.

No politician seems to know how to define socialism or socialized medicine. Socialized medicine means the hospitals are owned and operated by the government. The doctors, nurses, therapists, and all other caregivers are employed and paid (generally a salary) by the government. The only socialized medicine in the U.S. is the Veterans Administration Hospitals and the Department of Defense medical facilities. Bush and most Senators and Representatives are peachy keen on going to Bethesda for their government controlled and paid for medical care. In any case there is nothing in the bill that is socialized medicine. He can wait until a socialized medicine bill comes along to wield his veto pen.

My favorite is the canard it doesn't address just poor children.

It was never for poverty stricken kids. It was for working families that still could not afford health insurance or couldn't get it at any price because of pre existing health problems. Medicaid is for poverty level kids.

Bush and his apologists quote the lie that the bill would allow kids whose families make $83,000 per year to enter the program. Not so. New York State requested that and was turned down before Bush even vetoed this bill. I know $61,000 for a family of 4 (the current upper level in some states) seems high for us in Fillmore County. It wouldn't if you lived in New York where a moderate apartment in a marginal neighborhood may cost $2,000 per month or more. Medical care is more expensive and insurance, even with co-pays, is about $1,000 per month there.

To say that Bush and the Republicans during the first six years of this administration spent tax money like drunken sailors is to insult every swabby in every liberty port dive on every coast in the world. There has been varying numbers given but it appears the difference between Bush and the bill is about 6 billion per year. This is a lot of money but less than 2 weeks appropriations for Iraq, less than 4 days regular appropriations for the military, less than 2 years foreign aid to a military dictator we are propping up to help us deliver freedom and democracy to the Middle East.

Bush says he is willing to give 5 billion more to the program over 5 years. Because of inflation and increased costs this would not even maintain current levels of enrollment in any state. The bill would increase coverage to at least 4 million more of the 9 million kids now without insurance.

All 1st District Representatives in Congress have supported kids and the bill. I don't know how to convince more Congressmen that American kids are worth some of the tax money here at home. There are encouraging signs of a reality check in some areas of foreign policy with this administration. We can only hope some occurs in the domestic arena and we don't have to wait for an election for patches in the leaky safety net for working families and their children.

Robert Sauer lives in Preston. He can be reached at r.sauer@mchsi.com.

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