Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Poor Kids First"?

One of the big news items today is the fact that President Bush has vetoed the child health care bill, saying that it asks for too much. Folks who know me can guess that I probably lean more on one side than the other, but I'd like to comment briefly on my frustration at the apparent impossibility of modern American politics.

One the one side, you have the Democrats (not just them, but it does make it easier to discuss issues when you can divide groups into two distinct camps. Perhaps I should be bothered more by that fact...), who are arguing that Bush doesn't care about poor kids. One prominent Democratic leader has already called Bush "heartless," and some pundits are accusing Bush of holding this program "hostage."

On the other side, Bush last week accused Democrats of holding health care for these children "hostage" if they passed this bill. He reiterated the same point today by suggesting that lawmakers should take care of "Poor kids first," by which he seems to want Democrats to pass a law that deals with only the poorest kids, as opposed to expanding the program to cover higher income brackets (the fact that some would consider some of these higher income brackets "poor" despite being in moderately higher levels only serves to demonstrate how poorly defined "poor" is in the first place. I remember reflecting with some college friends that the only workable definition of "rich" seems to be "anyone with more money than you." The same principle seems to be at work here).

Of course, no one wants to be accused of holding poor kids hostage, but by tossing that word around, both sides hope to score points against the other, and nothing's actually getting done. All of this adds up to the inescapable point that our political system is, itself, in very poor health. I wish I could suggest anything at all to heal the very serious damage in the system, but for now, it seems all I can do is shake my fist in impotent rage at it all....

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