Kill The Poor

On Sunday’s “The Roundtable” portion of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” the remorseless, but always dapper George F. Will dropped this precious nugget of compassionate conservativism in defending President Bush’s promised veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) Bill:
>COKIE ROBERTS (ABC NEWS): That’s right. Look, I think this is a really bad moment for George Bush. The truth is he came to Washington wanting to expand the Republican Party, because there aren’t enough white guys to go around just doing the math and so he wanted to attract Hispanics and women to the Republican Party and he succeeded partly because of September 11th in the 2004 election. Now, with the immigration bill which is not his fault but the Republicans have succeeded in driving away Hispanics and with this veto he’s going to succeed in driving away women because to talk about vetoing health care for children is going to resonate with women in a way that they will just be off of the Republican Party.

>GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS): Unless facts are allowed to intrude, in which case it will be pointed out that what the Democrats are doing is taking a program aimed at poor children and turning it into a huge ever-expanding middle class entitlement program for, if Governor Spitzer in New York has his way, people, children up to say 25 years old from households with incomes of $82,000. Now, the guy sitting next to you at the bar at the plaza with a mustache sipping a vodka martini may be on that program for poor children.

$82,000 sounds like an unusually specific number. I bet if you made $82,000 in New York City, and you had, say, a couple of children, you’d be as good as poor. But far be it from me prevent facts from intruding. There’s a deeper problem here, though, one that only serious folks like Will can perceive: middle class children may benefit as well! To steal a line from the man himself, Heaven forfend. The Ford forbid some middle class types should horn in on a health care plan meant for poor children. In fact, I’m sure this would be the very first government program that benefited more people than were intended. Unfortunately, the lamentations of the trop riche were not ended, as the inimitable, pink-shirted David Brooks chimed in to echo Will’s not even remotely compassionate conservativism:

>DAVID BROOKS (“THE NEW YORK TIMES”): It’s a tough political veto –


>DAVID BROOKS (“THE NEW YORK TIMES”): – for the reasons Cokie said. But I’m with George. On the substance we just cannot get buried under a wall of debt and Bush will be, on the substance he’ll be right to do it.

Ah, yes. Paying for health care for impoverished children will lead to rising taxes and/or increased debt. So the President should definitely veto this bill. I suppose it is impossible that tax increases and a growing national debt are byproducts of an increasingly expensive and seemingly endless war effort. Much easier to prattle on about middle class entitlements and dust off the Higher Taxes are Bad for Your Life chestnut. Sic probo, providing health care for impoverished children actually represents a wrong.

The Dead Kennedys were only kidding…I’m not so sure about George and Dave.

3 thoughts on “Kill The Poor”

  1. Sometimes I don’t envy your task of categorizing all these awful arguments.

    That unusually specific dollar amount Will mentions is pretty good evidence he received that neat talking point from somewhere Republican…I wonder whether he remembers what it was like, back when he got to think and talk for himself. It probably wasn’t all that much better.

    This argument, that we just might accidentally help middle class kids who presumably aren’t in dire need our help, reminds me a lot of arguments contra medical marijuana–the fact that pleasure might be a side effect really seems to drive some (on the right) crazy:
    Oh no! We can’t hand out health care to poor kids lest we inadvertantly include some middle-class children as well!
    Oh no! We can’t distribute this medicine to alleviate suffering lest we inadvertently cause some pleasure!
    It’s as if the success of a scheme is being used as a grounds to disqualify it. Let us take no action lest it prove overly successful!
    Even better: Let’s take care to pass no legislation that could possibly have any kind of unintentional consequences, especially positive ones!

    I’m steeling my nerves for another 12-14 months of conservatives pretending to care about spending.

  2. You are absolutely right about their “compassionate conservatism.”

    However, maybe we should take a page out of Karl Rove’s book and turn their (supposed) strength against them. Someone may abuse the health insurance privilege for kids, therefore it is a bad program and shouldn’t be funded…so if someone were to, say, abuse the purpose of the military, then it is a bad program and should not be funded. Well hell that should save us about $2,000,000,000,000 over the next five years (that’s how much we actually spent over the last five)!! With that much savings then we have plenty of money to do crazy things, like pay off a lot of the debt, repair neglected infrastructure, fund science research programs, offer reparations to descendants of slaves, or, God forbid, fund health care for people who can’t pay for it themselves.

    Of course, we can’t get rid of the military since that would leave us open for attack, and we don’t want that because that would risk the health and safety of our children. Excuse me as I try to avoid falling into the large paradoxical hole opened by Conservatives massively inconsistent policy stances.

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