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Poverty in Power Politics September 10, 2007

Posted by Daniel Downs in children, Democrats, family, George W. Bush, health care, media, Medicare/Medicaid, Nancy Pelosi, poverty, SCHIP, welfare.

It is hard to imagine politicians and opportunists—a capitalist term, by the way—stooping so low as to prey upon the poor in order to gain votes or make a profit. It seems immoral. At least since the Watergate scandals, Americans discovered politicians often have problemswith morality. An ancient adage says never trust salespersons for they too have moral issues; the same applies to the media as well. Accuracy in Media, the media watchdog, exists because corporate media professionals have their moral issues. At the top of the list, profit forever remains supreme and somewhere down the list is honesty, which brings me to a recent article by Bethany Stotts.

Stotts, an intern at Accuracy in Media, wrote an excellent article entitled Politicizing Poverty that reveals how poverty is used to market political agendas and increase welfare industry profits. The issue she raises is not so much about dishonest gain as it is about using the impoverishment of millions of Americans for achieving political agendas and profit. Every since the Great Society scheme, liberals have been preaching the end of poverty. Ending poverty, however, is not the end goal of politicians or the welfare industry as is demonstrated by economic statistics.

As Stotts points out, the big news is that “[t]he poverty rate dropped to its lowest level since 2002. The number of people living below the poverty level of $20,625 per household of four declined by .5 million to 36.5 million persons nationwide.” That may be a small decline, but it is likely a significant one for the half-million benefiting by it. “Yet in the face of what some would call positive news others have fixated on the negative results of the census, such as the .5% increase in Americans without health insurance. Approximately 15.8% of the American population did not have health insurance in 2006, up from 15.3% in 2005.” Now, compare those figures to data presented by the liberal think-tank Economic Policy Institute. In an August 27th article, Jared Bernstein, Elise Gould, and Lawrence Mishel inform us that in 2000 “poverty was 11.3%, compared to 12.3% in 2006,” which amounted to “an increase in the poverty rolls of 4.9 million persons, including 1.2 million children.” After mentioning a slight income decline, they then highlight an increase of Americans without health care coverage. They wrote:

One negative trend persists: The share of Americans without health insurance coverage once again increased, from 15.3% in 2005 to 15.8% last year. There were 47.0 million uninsured Americans in 2006, up 2.2 million since its 44.8 million level in 2005. Since 2000, the share of the population without health coverage has increased 2.1 percentage points, an increase of 8.6 million uninsured Americans.

Stotts correctly understands that “[t]he fixation on a .5% increase in uninsured Americans likely stems from Bush’s threat to veto the upcoming State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization bill.” Contrary to his liberal critics, President Bush is not against reauthorizing the program. According to his published statement on the Democrats’ reauthorization bill, Bush opposes their attempt to use SCHIP as a means of achieving their universal health care agenda. He proposed increased funding for the program, but he opposes Democrats additional increases for universal coverage maneuvers. Bush proposed a positive plan to provide health care for poor children, but he opposes expansion of the program to insure citizens and non-citizens up to 25 years old and even to adults without children. He also opposes its negative impacts on other part of Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, coverage for the unborn, and benefits to senior citizens and the disabled. Bush’s opposition to coverage for middle-income families and people with incomes of $83,000 is astonishing. It must have been a real shocker for liberals—the champions of the poor—when they read Bush’s criticism of their little perk for the middle class.

As observed by Stotts, the debate in the media “serves as a microcosm of the politicization of poverty in America. One needs only look to Congress to understand its self-serving content.

Even so, Democrats must be credited for trying to make good on their Middle Class Mandate as outlined by Nancy Pelosi. The question is why have they never actually sought to end poverty in America? Stotts may have the answer. She wrote, “Low poverty rates serve as a disincentive for the growth of the welfare state, causing a decline in federal block grants…. Increased poverty levels, in turn, spur on new funding.” Big entitlements mean lots of government jobs and lots of government funds for profitable service providers. According to economist Charlotte Twight, as explained in her book Dependent on DC : The Rise of Federal Control over the Lives of Ordinary Americans, welfare politics makes the federal government rich with unconstitutional powers while making ordinary citizens impoverished dependents.

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1. Dr Mike Esposito - September 11, 2007

I like to tell John Edwards, or any other candidate who really wants to start connecting with American, that it’s time to talk plainly about Universal Health Care in America. Right now it’s just a “hot air” political topic that sounds good, but they are avoiding the realities of the problem which you have touched on. The health care system, like the military industrial complex of the cold war, is predicated on corporate profits and not the well being of the patient. The CEO’s of the large HMO’s and pharmaceutical companies have the same agenda as any other corporate leader. Raise their company’s stock price or lose their job which pays their obscene salary and bonus. Health care corporation’s focus is financial and they are not concerned with access to care or the quality of care their patients receive.

These same companies will push for tort reform because it limits their liability in medical malpractice lawsuits. They want to limit patient access, reduce their costs and not have any responsibility. The trial lawyers will not tolerate these unconstitutional limits and are fed by the victim’s misfortune. We have all heard the advertisements asking, “Has anything bad ever happened to you. Someone else should pay. Call us now. Time is running out.” How would they survive if they could only make a few hundred dollars an hour? (Assuming, of course, that they are not double billing). However, without these legal wolves patrolling the health care system even doctors would be at risk to corporate domination.

Where does this leave the doctor? Right next to the patient in the over-crowded emergency room wondering how things have gotten so out of control.

Posted by Dr. Michael Esposito M.D.
Radiologist and Author of “Locked In,” a new medical thriller.

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