October 8, 2007

George W. Bush: The First Anti-Children President

It is a generally accepted rule of politics that that bills which help poor sick children at the expense of people who smoke cigarettes should become law. After all, smokers aren’t exactly the most powerful group on Capitol Hill, and hardly any politician is willing to take the risk of appearing to be anti-children. Our President, however, appears to be an avid risk taker, because apparently being painted as a person who hates sick children doesn’t bother him in the least bit. That’s exactly why Mr. Bush decided that now is the time to block the passage of the SCHIP bill, a measure designed to try and insure approximately 10 million kids without private insurance. The logic behind such a veto is baffling.

Bush’s first initial justification for his veto of the SCHIP bill was to curb government expenditures. Some might find this puzzling, as Bush was the one who approved exorbitant subsidies for agriculture and has managed to run up billions prosecuting wars around the globe. Apparently for our fearless commander in chief, farm animals and killing foreigners require our full budgetary investment, but kids without health insurance shouldn’t get care. Of course, such logic is irresistible: millions for death and cows, but not one cent for poor children. Every American should be proud of a President who decides that being a fiscal conservative means prioritizing livestock and bombs over the children of America.

Once it became evident that the veto was not going to be an attempt to trim the budget, Bush turned to a tactic that would have made Joe McCarthy proud. He tried to raise fears about how an expanded SCHIP program would lead to “socialized medicine.” Obviously the idea that children shouldn’t die or be sick is clearly Communist: it’s featured prominently in Marx’s Communist Manifesto, right after the part about the class warfare. Clearly providing children with health care would lead to a Communist world victory.

Once the President’s fiscal conservatism and ideology scares failed to work, the Republican Party had to step in and turned to its favorite way to persuade the public: convoluted reasoning. Bill Frist went on national television to highlight how because the bill requires an increase of $0.61 on each pack of cigarettes, the amount of cigarettes sold would decrease, and the money for SCHIP would disappear. Frist’s logic is sound: after all, the only thing stopping smokers from continuing their habit is the fact that cigarette packs aren’t 60 cents more expensive. It’s not like cigarettes have anything that would keep people hooked regardless of cost: every cigarette smoker could quit at any time they wanted to. On the plus side, millions of smokers would quit overnight, unable to afford the extra pocket change needed to buy a few packs. If we can’t provide children with health care, at least we can stop Americans from smoking cigarettes.

In all seriousness, though, this veto has to be the most ridiculous political move that the President has ever undertaken. Ask yourself this question: what kind of decent human being decides that ideology and twisted logic come before the health of the children of our nation? How did we arrive at a point when our President, who should have the people’s best interests in mind, decides that America should be known as the country that refuses to make sure that children are healthy? It seems absolutely surreal that giving poor children health care even has to be an issue in this country. George Bush ought to be ashamed of himself.

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