Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bush "Leaves" Millions of Children Behind and Gains on James Buchanan as America's All-Time Worst President

A few months ago I wrote an article in _Political Affairs_ which asked
the question, "Is George Bush the Worst President in U.S. history.?" I
concluded that in terms of his effects on the United States, Bush was
still behind James Buchanan, whose influence abroad was negligible, but
that he still, if we didn't stop all of his policy initiatives, had time
to catch up. Bush's veto yesterday of federal legislation expanding
health insurance coverage for children shook up even many Republicans
and is another example of how arrogant, willful and blind he is to the
sensibilities of the great majority of Americans. Bush is now really
closing in on James Buchanan whose support in the late 1850s for the pro
slavery forces in the Kansas territory, the Dred Scott decision that
even many appeasers of the Slave Power considered extreme, and tacit
acceptance of the secession movement enraged the great majority of
Northerners(who were the political majority of the country) who then
elected Abraham Lincoln, fought and won the Civil War against the
secessionists, and(although this is relatively minor) turned Buchanan's
Democratic party into a minority party for the next seventy years, until
the depression and the New Deal government led by Franklin Roosevelt saw
it rise to majority status.

Before we examine Bush's "rationale" for his veto of legislation with
significant bipartisan support to expand federal health insurance
funding for children, it is important to deal analytically with the
larger context. The U.S. has no system of socialized medicine, unlike
all other industrialized countries, however different both the funding
schemes and the quality of those systems of socialized medicine may be.
Health care is not a human right for citizens in the U.S. or even a
profession for doctors and other health care professionals, but an
enormous industry organized on the principals of what Marxists and
Communists have long called state monopoly capitalism, namely huge
transnational pharmaceutical firms producing and selling drugs at high
profits allied to powerful national insurance companies(Prudential,
Aetna, Oxford, etc,) financing and "managing" the health care delivery
system by charging premiums to individuals and groups and paying doctors
and other "providers" of health care services to individuals, making
their profits through the HMO systems by getting the most they can in
premiums and giving the least they can get away with in benefits. .HMO
has become the generic term used in the U.S. for the "putting out"
system of health care in which doctors and others are put by insurance
companies into "provider" networks. The great majority of Americans
with health coverage are now in these network systems.

This system simply doesn't make sense except in regard to maximizing the
profits of pharmaceutical firms and insurance companies, costs twice as
much as socialized medicine systems in other developed countries,
provides a significantly lower level of health care for the majority of
people than than those systems, and simply must be abolished and
replaced with a system of socialized medicine of the kind that HR 646,
under the slogan of "Medicare for all represents today." That should be
the goal for all progressives in analyzing the health care industry in
the U.S., that is to demand and fight for legislation like the Conyers
Bill, HR 646, which gets rid of the insurance companies and compels the
pharmaceuticals to slash their drug prices in the U.S. by making them
sell their drugs to a federal public agency, not to and through
"prescription drug plans" controlled by their insurance companies allies
in the state monopoly capitalist health care system as the present
system does. Providing federal support to purchase insurance for
millions of children in low income families is no long or even middle
range policy solution to the crisis, but of course it is in the short
term today a necessity to protect millions of unprotected children. For
some, it may even be a matter of life and death.

In his veto, Bush used an old trick of rightwing Republican propaganda.
Remember Ronald Reagan's denunciations of welfare, his political attacks
against "welfare cheats" and "welfare queens," with an occasional
"concrete" example of a case of cheating to stigmatize a system that
providing public assistance to millions of children. Reagan always said
he had the "real welfare" of the people on welfare uppermost in his
mind, but his way of course was to "help them" by either eliminating or
at least reducing their benefits.

Bush said in his veto that he had the interest of "poor children"
uppermost in his mind and he was vetoing the legislation because the
increased funding would go to "middle class" children. Bush doesn't
seem to realize that in the U.S., as any Marxist could tell him, the
overwhelming majority of the working class, those who work for wages and
salaries, have been taught since the end of WWII to define themselves as
"middle class." He also, as any Republican propagandist should tell
him, doesn't seem to know that both parties, but particularly the GOP,
have made appeals to the "middle class" in the form of tax cuts,
anti-inflation campaigns, mortgage loan guarantees, highway
construction, into something of a political fetish. If the "Middle
Class" and the "American Dream'/American Way of Life are one in the
same, why is Bush so adamantly against providing health insurance to
uninsured "Middle Class" children?

The legislation Bush just vetoed would add four million children to the
present program, which reaches six million children. The great majority
would(from my readings) be in families that have incomes of $20,000 to
$40,000. Bush in vetoing the legislation claimed that children from
families earning "as much" as 83,000 might get benefits, which the
bill's Democratic authors deny. Of course, Bush and his GOP hit men in
Congress didn't say how many families, how many children a family would
have to have to qualify, or even why a President whose own family counts
its wealth in the millions and whose strongest backing comes from those
who count their wealth in the billions would be so upset about an
uninsured child in a two income family whose parents probably pay
substantial amounts of money for day care and other child care expenses
and obviously don't have on the job health coverage which they could
provide for their children getting such a benefit.

Even for centrists and some "conservatives" who have a knee jerk
reaction against socialized medicine, even when it is called "single
payer" or Medicare for all, Bush's statements should be pretty revolting.
Finally, on a somewhat lighter note, Bush in his explanation of his veto
came up with another of his many Bushisms, which I mention because they
are so many that it will probably be forgotten., "My job is a decision
making job, and as a result, I make a lot of decisions," Bush said. In
the 1920s, when Calvin Coolidge was asked by reporters to explain
unemployment, he said that when people are thrown out of work,
unemployment results. Coolidge wasn't really stupid, although he
sounded stupid. He was just trying to avoid the question. With Bush it
isn't really clear what he was saying or if he knew what he was saying.
This veto and and should be over-ridden. The National Democratic Party
at For Kids are mounting a campaign to do
that. The campaign deserves the support of progressives who wish to
help four million children gain medical coverage that President
Buchanan(my mistake) Bush is trying to deny them.
Norman Markowitz


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