By MARC McDONALD
I always find it fascinating how the likes of George W. Bush and other GOP politicians constantly speak out against government-run health care, even as they get to enjoy world-class government-run health care themselves.
When you're the U.S. president, you get the best health-care treatment in the world. And it's all paid for by the taxpayers.
Unlike the rest of us, Bush doesn't have to worry about how he's going to pay for his health care. He doesn't have to haggle with greedy HMOs. He doesn't have to spend sleepless nights, worrying about what will happen if he or a member of his family has a catastrophic health-care crisis. He doesn't have to wait in line to get treatment.
In fact, Bush doesn't even need to lift a finger to see a doctor. All he's got to do is give the word, and a world-class physician will come to see him in the White House, any time he wants, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In other words, Bush is living in a different universe than the rest of us.
Despite the lavish government-run medical care Bush receives, he's quite confident that the best health-care solution for the rest of us is that offered by stingy, corrupt HMOs. In reality, of course, HMOs don't give a damn about the health care of their clients. They're only concerned with maximizing their quarterly profits.
And even as Bush enjoys state-of-the-art, world-class government-run health care, he's working to gut a successful program that offers health care to children in America.
As The New York Times reported, Bush has threatened to veto any substantial increase in spending for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a joint federal-state effort that has substantially reduced the number of uninsured children in the country.
As the Times noted, the program now gets $5 billion a year in federal money to match state contributions, and the Bush administration has proposed a meager increase of $5 billion spread over the next five years. The Times reported that "that would not even be enough to cover all of the 6.6 million children who were enrolled at some time during the last year. Hundreds of thousands of children would likely fall off the rolls. And there would be no help for some eight to nine million children who now have no health coverage at all."
At first glance, Bush's proposed $5 billion might sound like a lot of money. But the fact is, Pentagon blows through that much money every couple of weeks in Bush's illegal, immoral war in Iraq. And that doesn't include the many billions of dollars that have vanished and remain completely unaccounted for in Iraq.
Bush is following in the proud Republican tradition of being penny-wise and pound-foolish. He fights a highly successful program offering health care to children to save a few billion dollars. And then he turns around and lavishes billions of dollars on his failed, reckless war in Iraq (not to mention the billions in corporate welfare for the likes of Halliburton).
Bush also serves up a hefty dose of Republican hypocrisy. He fights the State Children's Health Insurance Program, because it's a government-run program. But then he shamelessly enjoys the benefits of the world-class, government-run health care that he and his family receives. In fact, for all of Bush's advocacy of private-sector solutions for health-care, I don't recall him ever once proposing that health-care for politicians be handed over to the HMO sharks.