Despite campaign promises, Bush plan leaves at least 10 million children behind

Bryan Nichols

It would seem to follow that a man who had a desire to “leave no child behind” would desire to do so in all respects.

A man who made a promise like this might not confine his promise solely to education, but might also provide the devices by which children could also achieve health care, get out of poverty or gain housing.

Well, one for four isn’t bad, at least by George W. standards.

While I could spend quite a while talking about any of the other three, I guess, for the sake of focus, I’m going to deal with health care.

Now, you and I know our president made the “leave no child behind” promise all sorts of times during his presidential campaign.

What you may not know is that Bush may be rescinding. Big time.

Bush’s budget, his all-encompassing plan to get America back on track, just happens to include one cut that will probably leave many children behind.

He wants to cut the budget for a variety of health programs that help people without insurance.

For those of you who don’t know the extent of our nation’s health-care insurance crisis, here’s a couple of figures: 42.5 million people in our nation lack health insurance, 10 million of them are children.

So what does Bush think would be the best idea to help them out? He thinks we should cut 86 percent of the budget for programs that may help them.

President Clinton championed the programs, especially a community access program that would allow for better connections between doctors, hospitals and clinics caring for the uninsured. In fact, just last year he persuaded Congress to increase the budget to $140 million to allow for more comprehensive care.

Enter George W. I can only imagine how the conversation went.

Staff member: Well, it looks like we have $140 million going to help the uninsured.

President Bush: (Incensed) What? Are they rich?

S: No. They’re poor, sir. Very poor.

W: Really? Well, let’s cut that then.

S: To what?

W: (Looks perplexed) I don’t know, how about $20 million? That’s how many fingers and toes I have, right?

S: Right, sir.

See, maybe Bush thinks not having insurance health care will make the uninsured people stronger.

It’s just weird to hear a social Darwinist argument coming from a man who cited Jesus as his favorite political philosopher.

What does the Bush camp have to say about this?

A White House spokesperson said, “We intend to phase out the community access program. Creating new federal grants is not the best way to address health care access. It’s an efficacy issue.”

I see. Apparently Bush has a better plan. It’s easy enough to see how it works.

After all, if an uninsured person can’t get health care, she will probably die when she gets sick. So that’s one less uninsured person. Score one for the Bush plan!

In fact, Bush’s plan will work even better than he thought, since many health experts predict an increase in the number of uninsured Americans because of inflation and the declining economy.

Bush’s budget plan has more great ideas for health care.

Apparently his budget also cuts federal funding for the training of health care professionals from $353 million to $140 million. If you don’t have a calculator handy, that’s a 60 percent cut.

So apparently federal grants aren’t the best way to address health care.

The best way to address health care is to have less-trained doctors treating fewer people. It’s all so much clearer now.

So where is all of this money going?

Well, Bush wants to increase the funding by $400 million to after-school groups and open these government grants to religious groups, as he said, “so they can help change hearts.”

It makes more sense now. When Bush talks about “changing hearts,” he must really mean “doing heart transplants.”

So apparently this increase is a necessary part of the Bush health care plan.

As we train our doctors less and have more sick, uninsured people, we’ll need after-school religious groups to pick up the slack and care for the people and do surgeries.

What better way to learn than experience?

Maybe I’m being a little harsh on Bush’s budget cuts. I just don’t think so.

For a man who promised to “leave no child behind,” it seems an awful lot like he’s leaving behind 10 million and counting.

I guess, in the big scheme of things, that’s not that many. Only about 4 percent of America’s population.

Maybe that’s why he calls himself a “compassionate” conservative.

Bryan Nichols is a senior in genetics from Burnsville, MN.