Little Red Ribbon-Hood: September 2007: Archives

September 25, 2007

George Bush: I Get My Way Or No Kid's Health Care? genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak

Temper Tantrum

The President continues to threaten a veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) should Congress, as expected, pass the measure which expands the program by $35 billion dollars over the next five years. The bottom line for the President centers on his displeasure with the prior rejection of his efforts to expand health care by offering tax cuts to those who will purchase private insurance.

Unfortunately, the President's plan has already been rejected...primarily because tax deductions do little for those who live in poverty. Giving a tax deduction to those who do not pay taxes is akin to offering fifty percent off on fine jewelry...it sounds like a deal to those who can afford the reduced price but it is meaningless to the customer who can't even afford to purchase the costume jewelry.

While the GOP frequently attempts to portray liberals as ideological elitists, the truth of the matter is that Republican's of George Bush's ilk are often guilty of functional elitism...a mind set that frequently finds its origin in a life of affluence...a mind set which is accompanied by a misguided belief that all that ails Americans can be addressed through tax cuts. Try as he might, the President cannot separate his ideology from the silver spoon that fed him.

With a five-year, $35 billion expansion of the children's health insurance program due for a final vote in the House today, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and White House aides agreed that Bush's opposition to the legislation stems not from its price tag but from far larger health policy issues. The White House wants to use the issue of uninsured children to resurrect the president's long-dormant proposals to change the federal tax code to help the uninsured, adults and children alike, Grassley said, calling that a laudable goal but unrealistic politically.

In talks this spring with Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, White House National Economic Council Director Al Hubbard and Hubbard's deputy, Keith Hennessey, Grassley discussed linking an extension of the 10-year-old SCHIP program to a more ambitious effort to address the adult uninsured. Grassley encouraged the White House to try to round up Democratic support for that approach, but when White House officials made no such effort, Grassley told them in April that the children's health program would have to stand alone.

That is why he said he was surprised when Bush brought it back up in a phone call Thursday, just minutes before the president went before microphones at the White House to blast the SCHIP deal.

Asked if Bush was holding the children's health bill hostage, Grassley said, "Yes."

Reading between the lines, perhaps the President retains unrealistic visions of passing his preferred health insurance legislation. Notwithstanding, he would be better served to listen to Senator Grassley.

Sadly, the President has shown little interest in consulting his opponents and seeking to forge bipartisan solutions...a hesitance likely born of a philosophy held by George Bush and his surly strategist, Karl Rove...one that places partisan success ahead of pragmatic policy. Frankly, George Bush has rarely met a reasonable bipartisan measure he hasn't attempted to politicize...and his recent comments on the SCHIP program are in keeping with the well established pattern.

With a veto almost inevitable, both sides are gearing up for the next step. Congress is likely to pass a short-term extension of the existing SCHIP program before it expires Sept. 30, then begin a second legislative effort. Grassley said if he were the Democrats, he would send the SCHIP expansion to a vote every three months, along with campaign advertisements accusing Republicans of abandoning children. That way, pressure would mount either on Bush to sign the bill or on House Republicans to override the veto.

Americans United for Change, a group closely allied with the Democratic leadership, will begin airing television ads this week in Kentucky, accusing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of abandoning his state's children.

The White House is looking increasingly isolated on the issue. America's Health Insurance Plans, the largest insurance lobbying group, endorsed the measure yesterday, undercutting Bush's contention that the bill is a step away from private insurance and toward government-run health care.

"It repairs the safety net and is a major movement toward addressing the problems that states and governors have been trying to address, which is how to get access for children," said Karen Ignagni, the group's president.

The issue appears to be a winner for the Democrats and I personally find it encouraging to see Americans United For Change adopting the same strategy being used by the GOP to support the President's failed war in Iraq. Doing so has the added advantage of supporting a policy that actually has the potential to benefit Americans...an outcome not likely to result from the GOP campaign.

As noted by Grassley, a Republican, the President's stubbornness may well provide the Democrats another club with which to beat the already battered GOP in the run up to the 2008 election. I would expect many Republicans to abandon the President...realizing that George Bush is more concerned with his rigid ideology and his legacy than avoiding a repeat of the 2006 elections.

In the end, historians and a fair share of Republican's will likely note that George Bush was far more petulant than compassionate. This anticipated veto may simply be the icing on George Bush's less than edible legacy cake.

Tagged as: Americans United For Change, Charles E. Grassley, George W. Bush, GOP, SCHIP, Veto

Daniel DiRito | September 25, 2007 | 9:23 AM | link | Comments (0)
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September 20, 2007

Jackass: The Sequel - Twenty Two Donkeys For "W" genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Twenty two Democratic Senators broke ranks and voted with the GOP to issue a resolution condemning the recent MoveOn.org advertisement in the New York Times. The advertisement asked the question, "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?", insinuating that the report of the General was little more than carrying water for the Bush administration's failed war in Iraq.

Take whatever side you choose on the advisability of the advertisement, but the fact that the Democratic Party allowed such a measure to pass is perhaps the single most stupid act of political suicide I've witnessed in years. To think that an act of free speech rises to the level of requiring such a resolution is mind boggling.

The fact that the entire event was masterfully manipulated to include the President slamming a softball of a question on the subject out of the park at the end of his hastily arranged press conference ought to be seen for what it was...a full-on partisan stunt and an insult to the intelligence of the voting public.

Worse still, the Democrats tucked their tails and cowered in the corner. Maybe we need to requisition diapers for our infantile Senators. What an absolute load of childish political drama on the part of the GOP; what a disgusting demonstration of spineless submission on the part of the Democrats.

Once you've had a chance to barf at the idiocy of the bungling burros, perhaps the following graphic will help you muster a much needed chuckle.

Twenty Two Donkeys For Brother Bush

Tagged as: Democrats, General David Petraeus, George W. Bush, GOP, Iraq, MoveOn.org

Daniel DiRito | September 20, 2007 | 5:48 PM | link | Comments (1)
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George Bush: Yes To Tax Cuts; No To Poor Children genre: Econ-Recon & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak

Medical Tools

During the President's press conference this morning, he accused Democrats of "putting poor children at risk" in order to score political points. Unfortunately, the accusation is absurd since the Democrats intend to submit legislation to expand health care to more children through the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) program.

In reality, the Democratic proposal is to expand SCHIP by $35 billion dollars and the President is threatening to veto the legislation...arguing that the expansion of the program "is a step toward federalization of health care". The President believes the proposal would allow states to offer health benefits to families which already have private insurance. Lacking in his analysis is any recognition that the added funds will provide needed health care to many children who lack coverage.

Apparently the President believes some children who lack health insurance aren't poor enough to warrant coverage. I guess trying to provide health insurance to more Americans makes the actions of the Democrats a political stunt. Conversely, wouldn't a presidential veto suggest the same of George Bush?

Further, if SCHIP's goal is to help those in need, then the actions of the Democrats is in keeping with the intent of the legislation...and the President's actions are in keeping with his propensity for drawing arbitrary distinctions out of thin air. In this particular case, the President ought to admit that his own political ideology trumps his assertions of compassion.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program is set to expire Sept. 30. Democrats are pushing for a $35 billion spending increase for SCHIP, and Bush has threatened to veto it. He has proposed a $5 billion increase.

SCHIP is a state-federal partnership designed to provide health coverage to families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private coverage. More than 6 million people, primarily children, participate.

"The president hides behind the word 'federalization' because his political base opposes doing what is decent and humane," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "The Senate and the House both approved legislation that would extend health care coverage for poor kids, not cut it back."

"Instead of expanding SCHIP beyond its original purpose, we should return it to its original focus, and that is helping poor children, those who are most in need," Bush said. "And instead of encouraging people to drop private coverage in favor of government plans, we should work to make basic private health insurance affordable and accessible for all Americans."

The problem with the above statement by the President is that insurance isn't becoming more affordable and he would be hard pressed to identify any tangible measures in place to do so. As such, more families are unable to purchase health insurance and the trend will continue as long as health care costs outpace increases in income. Further, those on the lower end of the income scale typically see their income levels rise far slower than all others...leaving them all the more vulnerable.

Lastly, I find it rather disingenuous for this President to lecture us on compassion when he enacted one of the largest tax cuts in recent history...tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited those at the top of the income scale. If he's actually committed to helping those in need, why not reduce the tax cuts in order to expand the SCHIP funding. I guess compassion for this president comes to a sudden halt when it requires those who have to give to those who have not.

Tagged as: George W. Bush, Health Care, Health Insurance, Poverty, SCHIP, Tax Cuts

Daniel DiRito | September 20, 2007 | 11:06 AM | link | Comments (1)
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