Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Shame of Children's Health Care and the Continuing Economic Crisis

by Norman Markowitz

The Democrats have failed to over-ride Bush veto of their children's health care act, which would have provided coverage for four million uninsured children. Representative Allyson Schwartz, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, looking at the increasing rate of unemployment, stated succinctly that "two thirds of unemployed individuals lose health coverage for their families when they lose their job." Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia responded by saying (and I am not making this up) "we will come back to this floor in the next week or two with a $150 billion stimulus package to get us out of a recession....We don't want to be squandering money to provide health insurance for those who can't afford to do it themselves."

What planet is Gingrey representing, and what century is he living in? If he was a racist white supremacist Georgia congressmen defending child labor in the mill towns who was transported from 1908 by a time machine, he might argue that increasing child labor and permitting children to work longer hours might enable them to buy their own health insurance. Perhaps he considers social investments and social legislation as part of government policy to stimulate the economy as socialism and communism. If that is true, then we will need to have a mass Communist or Socialist party (I would certainly prefer the former) to get low cost universal public health care and pro labor public economic policies that will overcome both the immediate economic crisis and protect the people from economic crises generally.

Meanwhile, the National Conference of Mayors issued a serious call for an economic program to fight the crisis. The Conference has called for a sharp increase in both Community Development Grants, used to upgrade public services and housing and also raise caps on interest free mortgage revenue bonds, which are used to help low income mortgage holders in crisis. These policies are a serious step in the right direction, that is upgrading public sector services, providing for more jobs not less, and also helping poor people keep their homes and continue to purchase goods and services in the economy.

In 1934, the National Conference of Mayors, then influenced by mass demonstrations of the unemployed councils and workers strikes, advocated policies that prefigured the New Deals Works Progress Administration and Social Security. Unemployment Insurance Legislation. These demands are much more modest and Franklin Roosevelt isn't in the White, but as this crisis continues to develop, it becomes clearer and clearer that it is only contemporary versions of the policies that reactionaries called Communist and Socialist during the great depression offer solutions for the working people.

[Note from PA: See Markowitz's latest article, "John Edwards: A Look at the Man and the Message," in the latest issue of Political Affairs.]

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