Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bush is No Robin Hood


Bush vows to veto kids’ health insurance bill:

President, Democrats clash over proposed legislation for poor children



Associated PressUpdated: 1:16 p.m. ET Sept 22, 2007

WASHINGTON - President Bush again called Democrats "irresponsible" on Saturday for pushing an expansion he opposes to a children's health insurance program.
"Democrats in Congress have decided to pass a bill they know will be vetoed," Bush said of the measure that draws significant bipartisan support, repeating in his weekly radio address an accusation he made earlier in the week. "Members of Congress are risking health coverage for poor children purely to make a political point."
In the Democrat's response, also broadcast Saturday, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell turned the tables on the president, saying that if Bush doesn't sign the bill, 15 states will have no funding left for the program by the end of the month.

At issue is the Children's Health Insurance Program, a state-federal program that subsidizes health coverage for low-income people, mostly children, in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private coverage. It expires Sept. 30.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced a proposal Friday that would add $35 billion over five years to the program, adding 4 million people to the 6.6 million already participating. It would be financed by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents to $1 per pack.
The idea is overwhelmingly supported by Congress' majority Democrats, who scheduled it for a vote Tuesday in the House. It has substantial Republican support as well.

‘The health of our children is far too important’

But Bush has promised a veto, saying the measure is too costly, unacceptably raises taxes, extends government-covered insurance to children in families who can afford private coverage, and smacks of a move toward completely federalized health care. He has asked Congress to pass a simple extension of the current program while debate continues, saying it's children who will suffer if they do not.
"Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage — not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage," Bush said.
The bill's backers have vigorously rejected Bush's claim it would steer public money to families that can readily afford health insurance, saying their goal is to cover more of the millions of uninsured children. The bill would provide financial incentives for states to cover their lowest-income children first, they said.
Many governors want the flexibility to expand eligibility for the program. So the proposal would overturn recent guidelines from the administration making it difficult for states to steer CHIP funds to families with incomes exceeding 250 percent of the official poverty level.
Rendell said thousands of children will lose health care coverage if Bush doesn't sign the bill.
"The administration has tried to turn this into a partisan issue and has threatened to veto. The health of our children is far too important for partisan politics as usual," he said. "If the administration is serious about solving our health care crisis, it should be expanding, not cutting back, this program which has made private health insurance affordable for millions of children."

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Families Brace for SCHIP Demise - Many Poorer Families Fear Presidential Veto Threatens Their Chidren's Health Care:


Carolyn Taylor, a full-time nursing assistant and medical technician, works hard to ensure that she is able to provide for her 11-year-old son Keith. But on Monday, she — along with thousands of others — took time off to rally in support of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

"The rally was to let Bush know we need health insurance for our children," said Taylor, a Baltimore resident. "We wanted to let President Bush know we are real people. He said there would be no child left behind. Well, we're getting left behind unless he continues SCHIP."

Yet, it appears that the effort may be in vain after Bush vetoed a bill on Wednesday that would have renewed and expanded SCHIP.

The program, which provides health insurance for children from families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance, was created in 1997 to address the growing number of children in the United States without health insurance coverage. It currently provides coverage for over 6.6 million kids.

Poor Smokers Would Pay for Health Bill:


By Charles Babington, 30 September 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Democrats have chosen an unlikely source to pay for the bulk of their proposed $35 billion increase in children's health coverage: people with relatively little money and education.

The program expansion passed by the House and Senate last week would be financed with a 156 percent increase in the federal cigarette tax, taking it to $1 per pack from the current 39 cents. Low-income people smoke more heavily than do wealthier people in the United States, making cigarette taxes a regressive form of revenue.

Democrats, who wrote the legislation and provided most of its votes, generally portray themselves as champions of the poor. They do not dispute that the tax plan would hit poor communities disproportionately, but they say it is worth it to provide health insurance to millions of modest-income children.

All the better, they say, if higher cigarette taxes discourage smoking.

Bush chooses war and tobacco company profits over children's health care by Mary Shaw


Submitted by BuzzFlash on Thu, 10/04/2007 - 3:50pm.

As promised, George W. Bush has vetoed a highly popular bipartisan bill that would provide health care for uninsured low-income American children.

These children happen to have parents who aren't lucky enough to have jobs that provide health care benefits for their families. That is not an unusual situation to be in these days. But Bush has no empathy for these children. He has always enjoyed the best medical care when he's needed it. As he once told one of his professors at Harvard Business School, Bush believes that "poor people are poor because they're lazy."

Absurd and pathetic as that attitude may be, it is even more absurd and pathetic to make the children pay the price.By the way, this is the same George W. Bush who has called himself a "compassionate conservative." So where is the compassion in depriving America's innocent children of health care that could save their lives?

For the record, Bush is now officially a lame duck. And lame duck Bush says the children's health insurance bill would amount to too much spending, and that it borders on socialized medicine. Yet, this system has been working well for a while on the state level, and a proposed tobacco tax hike would pay for it. Sounds ideal. Better health all around.But Bush would rather side with the tobacco corporations. No more taxes on cigarettes. According to Bush, everyone should have access to reasonably priced cigarettes. That's more important than access to health care.

The vetoed bill would cost $35 billion over five years, and Bush tries to use that as an excuse for his veto. It's just too much spending, he tells us, as if he is fiscally responsible.

But consider this: The Iraq war is costing us about $8.4 billion per month. So, for just four months of Iraq war costs, we could insure all those sick children for 5 years. Think about that.

Nope. Veto. It's too much spending.

Instead, America's uninsured children can just suffer and die, and we'll use that money instead to bomb more innocent Iraqi children.God bless America.

A Buzzflash Guest Contribution
Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views on politics, human rights, and social justice issues have appeared in numerous online forums and in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail: mary@maryshawonline.com.

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Audit Finds Education Dept. Missteps

By Ben Feller The Associated Press
Friday 22 September 2006

Washington - A scorching internal review of the Bush administration's reading program says the Education Department ignored the law and ethical standards to steer money how it wanted.
The government audit is unsparing in its review of how Reading First, a billion-dollar program each year, that it says has been beset by conflicts of interest and willful mismanagement. It suggests the department broke the law by trying to dictate which curriculum schools must use.
It also depicts a program in which review panels were stacked with people who shared the director's views and in which only favored publishers of reading curricula could get money.
In one e-mail, the director told a staff member to come down hard on a company he didn't support, according to the report released Friday by the department's inspector general.
"They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat the (expletive deleted) out of them in front of all the other would-be party crashers who are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we welcome these dirtbags," the Reading First director wrote, according to the report.
That official, Chris Doherty, is resigning in the coming days, department spokeswoman Katherine McLane said Friday. Asked if his quitting was in response to the report, she said only that Doherty is returning to the private sector after five years at the agency.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, in a statement, pledged to swiftly adopt all of the audit's recommendations. She also pledged a review of every Reading First grant.
"I am concerned about these actions and committed to addressing and resolving them," she said.
Reading First aims to help young children read through scientifically-proven programs, and the department considers it a jewel of No Child Left Behind, Bush's education law. Just this week, a separate review found that the effort is helping schools raise achievement.
But from the start, the program has also been dogged by accusations of impropriety, leading to several ongoing audits. The new report from the Office of Inspector General - an independent arm of the Education Department - calls into question basic matters of credibility.
When the department fails to follow the law and its own guidance, the report says, "it can only serve to undermine the public's confidence in the department."
The ranking Democrat on the House education committee was furious.
"They should fire everyone who was involved in this," said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. "This was not an accident, this was not an oversight. This was an intentional effort to corrupt the process."
About 1,500 school districts have received $4.8 billion in Reading First grants.

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