- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2007


GI health insurance

It is not often that I come to the defense of President Bush whose actions have generally served to cause our nation to take the wrong path at every fork in the road.

On the matter of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), however, he is being unfairly smeared by his opponents, certainly in part for political reasons (“Senate bill doubles children’s health funds; Bush opposed,” Page 1, Friday).

The Founding Fathers did not envision a nation in which the government would become the provider of first resort, where personal responsibility would be optional and rare, but this is what has occurred, in part through the initiation and expansion of programs that foot the bills for individuals to have and raise families.

As liberals cry that we must continue to engage in runaway spending so as not to hurt “the children,” the president, not one known during his presidency as one who exerts spending restraint, has put his foot down, or at least threatened to do so, by saying he will veto a massive expansion of SCHIP that would enable some upper middle-class families to enjoy this benefit at the expense of lower-income citizens.

In my state and surely in others, SCHIP is detailed in television public service announcements with the hope of signing up more beneficiaries, and the program does not ever indicate how it is funded, which is on the backs of working middle-class families. It is portrayed as if it provides a host of benefits from money that falls from trees.

Our nation currently provides benefits to individuals with children, including those that are born out of wedlock, a sure path to poverty: The Earned Income Tax Credit, “free” public education, a $1,000 federal income tax credit per child, dependent allowances which reduce one’s federal income tax burden, the Women with Infants and Children Program (WIC) plus other welfare bonuses for those who qualify.

The president should hold fast in his reluctance to further expand the vast scope of our welfare state. He should veto this latest SCHIP excess and his veto should be upheld. If only he had used his veto pen on spending bills over the past six-and-a-half years.


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Health care for America is being attacked, particularly health care for millions of uninsured children. President Bush is threatening to veto a bill that would insure millions of American children because, as he said last week at the U.N. General Assembly, it’s “an incremental step toward the goal of government-run health care for every American.”

The Republicans in Congress will be under immense pressure from Mr. Bush and the elite rich and corrupt individuals, corporations and others to not support a veto override.

The president seems not to care about millions of children who are uninsured and anyone can plainly predict that he will be applying all the pressure at his disposal and using every political and nonpolitical avenue to sway these subservient Republicans.

If the bill fails, millions of children will continue to be uninsured because their families can’t afford the rising health insurance cost. Further, if this bill fails, health care for all Americans will come to a halt.

In the past, nearly all the Republicans in Congress have stood by Mr. Bush even if it was bad for the country or whether it was right or wrong. The American people, one would hope, will take notice of the vote not to override the veto and will hopefully do something about it next election year.

The United States has the finest and most advanced health care system in the world but many millions of Americans do not have access to it and cannot afford the high cost of insurance.

All Americans should let Congress know that going along with Mr. Bush’s veto this time will abruptly end the fight for all Americans to have available to them affordable and proper health care.

The American people know that rising health care costs, not health coverage is the chief health care concern. The American people also want the government to play a leading role in providing health care for all.

The American people overwhelmingly agree that access to health care should be a right and the public at large is willing to pay more in taxes to provide every American with health care coverage. If Mr. Bush’s veto is sustained, it will be a very sad day again in America.


West Blocton, Ala.

Remember Elian?

In the controversy over illegal immigration (“Immigration elitists,” Commentary, Friday), it seems those who want amnesty now for any and all illegal aliens did not care about giving asylum and citizenship to a truly deserving individual: Elian Gonzalez. As a child, Elian and his mother fled Cuba on a raft which overturned off the coast of Miami. The mother drowned and Elian was rescued and brought to his relatives’ home in Miami.

But as I remember, and saw in absolute horror, federal agents (under the direction of Attorney General Janet Reno, under President Clinton) raided the residence, whisked Elian away to a secret location in Maryland, allowed Cuban agents to interrogate him, barred the media from any interviews and then flew him away back to Cuba. Only because one brave AP reporter was able to sneak photos did America see this travesty of justice.

Apparently anyone can come illegally to America, like rapists, drug dealers, terrorists or those who simply want to access America’s benefits, but a small child like Elian who sought freedom from Communist oppression was not welcome to stay and obtain his citizenship as an American. Go figure.


Iran and cultural diplomacy

In a world characterized by the United States’ increasingly intolerant foreign policy, the world of academia offered no alternative last week (“Ill will for Ahmadinejad,” Page 1, Sept. 25). As if U.S.-Iran relations were not already on ice, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger’s tone and phrasing in addressing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad merely mirrored the current zero-sum resolve evident in U.S.-Iran relations that has failed to constructively engage the Iranian government in a healthy debate.

What went wrong? Upon watching the monologues, one question came to mind: What future do we have when one of the world’s leading academic institutions’ most brilliant tactic is the rhetoric of force?

Iranians are not difficult people to predict or understand. Their culture and ideologies are not hidden, nor do I believe they pose a direct or indirect threat against the United States, our beliefs or our integrity.

The Muslim and Arab worlds are well aware that Israel has enough might to maintain its presence and boundaries on its own and the United States would be wise to step aside.

This would alleviate one source of tension fueling terrorism in this world, lessen the Muslim-Western divide, address Iran’s greatest grievance and leave the United States with the sensible option of supporting the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Iran, using the only language they will respond to — cultural diplomacy.

Regardless of the Iranian government’s track record of human rights abuse and potential involvement in Iraq or nuclear ambitions, American academia failed to acknowledge a path beyond the contentious tactics dominating President Bush’s legacy.

We were defensive, and, we failed to show Iran’s leaderwe were secure in our own country. More importantly however, is how we enabled him to succeed. We allowed him to hijack our media and gave him the perfect platform to appeal to the moderate Muslims of this world.

Our enraged questioning allowed him to take the proverbial high road, making numerous references to God and America’s great mistakes in Iraq, strengthening his position despite the many statements that seemed absurd.

While no one can deny that Iran might be working against the United States in Iraq, why would we expect anything less? If Iran invaded Canada wouldn’t the United States send our support to keep the Iranians at bay? Against more powerful foes, alliances emerge.

The most effective defense against the Iranian government the United States can wield is understanding the Iranian culture and mind-set, the government’s resolve, its weaknesses and how opposition groups are influenced. Cultural diplomacy requires knowledge and insight that often results from the research conducted through our renowned universities like Columbia. Next time the opportunity arises to engage Iranians in a constructive debate, I hope the role of cultural diplomacy will re-emerge and succeed.




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