Tag Archives: childrens health

Contempt for the Great Generality: Hatch, Grassley, and the Great Unwashed

Every once in a while a Republican is caught being honest.  Consider the commentary from Iowa Senator Charles Grassley on the value of eliminating most of the inheritance tax because “they” invest, but the rest of the country…not so much. So, what to do when the comments create a social media fire storm?  Backtrack:

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Monday said his comments that the estate tax rewards those who don’t spend “every darn penny” on “booze or women or movies” were taken out of context, saying he meant that the government shouldn’t punish investment.

“My point regarding the estate tax, which has been taken out of context, is that the government shouldn’t seize the fruits of someone’s lifetime of labor after they die,” Grassley said in a statement.”

Nice try, but the “out of context” excuse has gotten thinner than the roast beef at the deli counter.  Senator Hatch (R-UT) was a bit more subtle when discussing the children’s health insurance funding, but not by much:

“In his speech, Hatch also said he thinks CHIP has done a “terrific job for people who really need the help” and noted that he had advocated for helping those who can’t help themselves throughout his Senate career. But, he continued, “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.” He blamed a “liberal philosophy” for creating millions of people “who believe everything they are or ever hope to be depend upon the federal government rather than the opportunities that this great country grants them.”

There they go again.  Oh, those Undeserving Poors who just Want Stuff, and won’t work for it.   The median household income in Nevada is $52,421, meaning half the families in Nevada have annual income below that figure.   So, what does it cost to get the kid’s tonsils removed?  ($4,153 to $6,381, with an average cost of $5,442)  How about that common childhood injury — the broken arm?  Expect this to carve out some $2,500 from the family budget.   It the youngster has a chronic condition — asthma, heart problems,  diabetes,etc. the price, of course goes up, and up and up.   We’re not talking here about “people who won’t lift a finger.”  we’re discussing families — working families who are hard pressed to find the resources to pay for medical treatment for their children.  And now we come to the place where Hatch and Grassley’s perspectives merge in a miserable view of humanity.

What these members of the US Senate are doing is using the old Reagan Era “Welfare Queen” mythology to camouflage their contempt for their fellow Americans.

“They” just want everything done for them.   “They” won’t lift a finger.  “They” are cheating me out of my money.  It’s never something like the single mother of a six year old who has asthma having to maintain a family budget while keeping up with the costs of inhaler medication.  Nor, do we hear much about the family in which both parents are working two jobs to keep close to that $52,421 number, and who are coping with a youngster with diabetes.  Well, well, sputter the solons, we weren’t speaking of Them.  Of course not.  And, I’m assured they weren’t talking about children suffering with cerebral palsy or other chronic conditions with serious financial implications for the family.  So, who are they talking about?  The hard truth is that they aren’t talking about anyone!

They aren’t talking about real people.  They are talking about that imaginary Great Unwashed, who are Welfare Queens, who are urban — and probably African American.  The subject of the Hatch-Grassley fears are highly generalized, mostly mythological, nearly always racist, ideas about the Undeserving Poor, who don’t “lift a finger.”  People, whose stories would touch our hearts and stir our empathy, are ignored in favor of painting with the broadest spray can nozzle possible a picture of urban, black, moral decay from which white America may safely distance itself.

They can (almost) manage some sympathy for the poor white families in remote areas of  America.  However, mention cities, and the racism kicks in.  It’s a hard and tragic thing to see the loss of employment in mining regions but no such sympathy is extended to the members of minority communities who languish in the Rust Belt.   However, even that small instance of empathy is victim to Republican ideas of virtue.  Those afflicted with opioid addition in those former mining regions may be unemployable because of their addictions, but by Republican lights must be employed in order to qualify for treatment.  In short, they can’t win for losing.

The Republican Party, once the party of progressive legislation, and even later of fiscal conservatism, has devolved into the party of racists, radicals, and unreasonable shills for corporate interests.  It’s a sad state of affairs. And, a sadder commentary on the political discourse of contempt.

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Filed under Health Care, Politics, racism, Republicans

The Republican Money Pits

money whirlpool So, how many ways can the House GOP find to waste taxpayer money? Let’s start with the House Oversight Committee which wasn’t pleased with the FBI’s conclusions on their manufactured outrage narrative concerning Secretary Clinton’s emails – now they want to haul the FBI director in for a grilling. [TPM]  However, this is only the latest.

Meanwhile, it’s estimated by the Department of Agriculture that 15.3 million children in the United States under the age of 18 live in homes where they don’t have consist access to enough nutritious food to sustain a health life. [FA.org]

It was reported yesterday that House leadership was meeting to discuss whether to launch a formal investigation into the sit-in staged by House Democrats over the failure of the leadership to bring a gun safety bill to the House floor. [TPM]

Meanwhile,  every day 7 children in the United States die in gun violence, and another 41 survive being shot in assaults (31), suicide attempts (1), and accidental shootings (8). [BC.org]

Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) continues to pump for more investigations into … Planned Parenthood. Who would have guessed? Not that the committee hasn’t soaked up some 80% of the supplemental funds for the House Administration Committee, that would be $790,000.  [Esq]

Meanwhile,  the CDC reports that between 2011-2014 the prevalence of children with obesity aged 2-5 yrs. was 8.9%, 17.5% among children between the ages of 6 and 11; and, 20.5% among adolescents aged 12 to 19. [CDC pdf]

The House Republicans racked up approximately $7,000,000 in expenses for its interminable Benghazi hearings.  [BBN]  The State Department spent about $14,000,000 trying to process and present information requested by the Committee, the Pentagon reported about $2 million in expenses associated with the “investigations.”

Meanwhile,  when the FAST Act expires at the end of FY 2020, the Congressional Budget Office projects the average annual shortfall to the federal Highway Trust Fund will grow to $16 billion, [TRIP scrib] and we have a backlog of pavement projects of about $59 billion, and another $30 billion needed to improve and maintain bridges.  This isn’t even county the $100 billion we need for highway system expansion and enhancement. [TRIP scrib]

Is it not reasonable to conclude that the House GOP is far more interested in political scandal mongering than it is in … investigating why 15.3 million children aren’t getting enough nutritious food to eat? Or, why 20% of our teenagers are suffering the health effects of obesity? Or, why we’re losing 7 children every day to gun violence?  Or, why we’re only spending 61% of what we should be allocating to the repair and maintenance of our national highway system?

Is there to be no investigation into why there isn’t adequate affordable housing in one single county in the entire United States? [Fortune]  Why aren’t members of the Congressional leadership interested in hearing why the gender pay gap is the widest for blue collar women? [Detroit News]

Instead, the House GOP seems entangled in the past, engaged in corybantic fits of furor over all but imaginary “threats” while veritably ignoring the very real economic, health, educational, infrastructure, and commercial interests of this country.  A person can reside in the past only so long as the future doesn’t catch up.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Health Care, Infrastructure, Republicans, youth

Who’s Pro-Life in the Nevada Senate Race?

I have an old fashioned idea that to be “pro-life” means just that.  A person proudly making that announcement about themselves should be supportive of those proposals which seek to better the chances for children to be born healthy, stay that way, and be as well cared for and educated as the family can manage.

Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) the Democratic candidate for the Nevada Senate seat in this election fits my definition of Pro-Life.  Her voting record is consistent with respect to supporting children’s health programs, and with regard to legislation which makes it easier for families to provide for their children, as in support for equal pay for women wage earners, and support for women’s health.

By contrast, I have some difficulty classifying Senator Dean Heller as “pro-life.” While he’s definitely “pro-birth,” the remainder of his record doesn’t indicate a person all that concerned with what happens after the Blessed Event arrives on this planet.

Senator Heller’s not met too many corporate subsidies or defense contractor related appropriations he doesn’t love, but when asked to vote to fund support programs related to the health and well being of children he’s all too ready to pronounce that we can’t spend the money because there’s This Big Fat Deficit.   We’d be asking the kids and grandkids to pay for the federal debt — in their own interest, as it were, because they’re the ones who get the benefit of these programs.

Children need to be born healthy.   Programs such as Planned Parenthood offer wellness programs for women and pre- and post- natal care. What could be more pro-life than that?  That Senator Heller obsesses about the 3% of Planned Parenthood funding which supports abortion procedures is highly unfortunate because most of what the clinics provide is care for wives and mothers.   Representative Berkley has been supportive of medical care for women, and by extension their children.

Children need to be fed.  When the House of Representatives voted to shred the social safety net on March 23, 2012 and shave $134 billion from SNAP funding Representative Berkley voted NO.  Her Republican colleagues Amodei and Heck voted “yes.”  The youngster coming into the world didn’t get to select his or her parents, nor get any choice as to their income bracket.  If we truly value children (beyond the embryonic stage) then we should do all we can to feed them adequately.  If the parents are struggling, then a civil society requires we chip in and help put some basic food items in the bottles or on the table.

Children need to stay healthy.  One of the nicer features about children is that they are remarkably durable.  Most need some basic vaccinations, and beyond that there’s the typical trajectory of abrasions, sprains, and a few fractures.   In an advanced country such as our own there is no excuse for having any child un-vaccinated for common diseases.  The Affordable Care Act, which Representative Berkley supported, requires health insurance plans marketed as “basic” to cover immunizations.  Senator Heller continues to disparage Obamacare in general terms while not speaking to the requirements in the law which specify basic coverage for children and their medical needs.  Indeed, Senator Heller was consistent and vociferous in his opposition to the Children’s Health Insurance Program which sought to ease the burden of serious childhood injuries and illnesses for middling income families.  Being pro-life means never telling a family they have to chose between the best health care for their seriously  ill or injured child and bankruptcy.

Children need to be nurtured.  The current flap over Big Bird illustrates a larger question.  Should we support educational programs for pre-school children which seek to improve their levels of school-readiness and school skill sets — without regard to the family’s income?  Again, in a civilized society the answer would be yes.  If the family cannot afford cable programming for children then there should be educational programming available to every household via the old antenna.   A pro-life stance would be one wherein ALL children, regardless of socioeconomic status, can benefit from pre-school and primary educational programs.  Representative Berkley supports PBS programming, Senator Heller doesn’t.

Children need access to as many forms of educational experiences as we can provide.  They need wildlife parks, they need museums, they need libraries, they need playgrounds, and votes to curtail funds for these institutions suggests that we believe that only those children who are fortunate enough to get born into a family of means can experience these institutions.  Rich families might take the kids on safari — the rest of the families need the wildlife park.  Wealthy families might amass private libraries — the rest of the families need the local library.  Wealthy families can visit historical sites — the rest of the families and their children need the museums.   And so it goes.

Children need parents who can support them.  This means supporting legislation which helps parents provide the most income they can manage. When wives are earning only 75% of what their husbands can earn in comparable employment then it is the whole family that suffers financially.  Each time a person votes against equal pay for equal work, or votes against employment discrimination legislation, that’s a vote which makes it just that much more difficult for families to meet their children’s needs.  Senator Heller has not been all that supportive of these families, Representative Berkley has.

Being pro-life means, or should mean, more than merely being pro-birth.  It means more than just caring for a fetus for 9 months — it’s really a matter of caring for — and about — the child for the next 18 years.   In this instance, Senator Heller’s record indicates a pro-birth stance, Representative Berkley is the pro-life candidate in the race.


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Filed under 2012 election, abortion, Berkley, education, Heller, Nevada politics