Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Millions for Bat Mitzvahs, Nuthin for Healthcare

There are nearly ten million children in the United States without healthcare, 70% of all newly uninsured (47 million and growing) Americans. The number of children without private insurance grows by roughly 3,000 every day.

More than 90% of these children have one or more parents who work. 60% live in two-parent families.

So when Governors from both political parties asked officials from the Bush administration to provide additional funding for children’s healthcare yesterday how do you think they responded?

These compassionate conservatives whose children are certainly not among the ten million uninsured told the Governor’s that the “states should make better use of the money they already had.”

What they have is only $5 billion a year! This is less than the United States is spending on the War in Iraq in a single month.

It is also $14 billion less than the $19 billion the federal government annually spends on agricultural price supports, 70% of which goes to the richest 10% of farms, including wealthy cotton farmers in Texas.

White House officials went on to lecture the governors that “individual children did not have a legal entitlement to benefits” and that the “states could avoid shortfalls by managing their programs better.”

Fair enough. But if working people’s children aren’t entitled to subsidized healthcare, why are the children of the super rich entitled to taxpayer subsidized $10 million Bat Mitzvahs?

In the latest version of the golden rule as in “he who has the gold, makes the rules,” the silver spoon set is using their more than $2 trillion in tax breaks to throw lavish parties for their kids!

Ben Stein the republican business writer for the New York Times discussed this in his Sunday Column:

“Now, you remember how we were having those tax cuts for the very rich so they could invest more and make America grow? Remember that?

Well, surprise! Some of that money is going to lavish Sweet 16 parties and $10 million bat mitzvahs, with Tom Petty and Kenny G and private jets flying the guests around. Five-hundred-thousand-dollar parties in New York and Malibu are no longer at all unusual. Even million-dollar parties for the rich are not out of the ordinary, according to the party planners….

I started to feel hysterical. Is this what America is all about? We’re in a war and we cut taxes to stimulate the economy — and it probably did (more on this questionable proposition in a future blog) — and we are having million-dollar parties at home while our soldiers are paid starvation wages to offer up their lives in Iraq? We’re in a war and the government cannot afford to pay for adequate training for our soldiers, but the society at home is routinely having million-dollar weddings and bar mitzvahs?

Can anyone say “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”?

We are creating a debt that is about $3 trillion greater than it was when Bill Clinton left office, and one sequel is $10 million birthday parties? Is this what supply-side is all about? To obligate future generations so our generation can have $10 million parties for teenagers?

Or as a fly on the wall at yesterdays meeting may have asked: Is this what our country which still professes to believe that all are created equal with the right to life (which presumably includes health), liberty and the pursuit of happiness really wants our government to do? Do we really want our tax dollars to subsidize the lavish parties of the super rich instead of providing healthcare to millions of kids?

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