Tuesday, March 22, 2005

VALUES: 'Defending Life for All Americans'

The Progress Report

by Christy Harvey, Judd Legum and Jonathan Baskin with Nico Pitney and Mipe Okunseinde



VALUES: 'Defending Life for All Americans'

President Bush said that he intervened in the Terri Schiavo case
yesterday morning because he believes in " defending life for all Americans,
including those with disabilities
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/03/20050321.html) ."
Supporting life, however, takes more than political grandstanding. Time and
again the Bush administration has pursued policies that undermine the
lives and health of the American people. While the Schiavo case is
being considered by the federal courts
, President Bush has an opportunity to show his commitment to
"defending life for all Americans" by reconsidering his policies that affect
millions of Americans.

ELIMINATING HEALTH CARE FOR THE POOR: According to the Institute of
Medicine, lack of health insurance already " causes roughly 18,000
unnecessary deaths every year in the United States
(http://www.iom.edu/report.asp?id=17632) ." Since President Bush took
office the number of Americans who are uninsured has swelled by more
than 5 million people
. Now he's poised to make the situation worse. President Bush is
proposing significant funding cuts to Medicaid and the related State
Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Bush's 2006 budget slashes funding
for the programs -- which provide vital health coverage to 1 in 6
Americans and 1 in 4 children -- by more than $20 billion over five years.
According to Heather Boushey, an economist at the Center for Economic
and Policy Research, " the cut would make 1.2 million children unable to
access the system.
(http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0321/p15s01-cogn.html) " Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) said of Bush's proposed Medicaid cuts:
"[P]eople need to remember that to balance the federal budget on the
backs of the poorest people in the country is simply unacceptable.... You
don't pull the wheelchair out from under the child with muscular

EXPOSING CHILDREN TO TOXIC MERCURY: Mercury is a powerful toxin that
can have serious neurological effects, especially in kids. It is known to
directly harm the nervous systems of children
, causing birth defects and other maladies. Currently, 600,000 babies
born in the United States every year "may be exposed to dangerous levels
of mercury in the womb." Yet, the Bush administration recently issued
rules which would allow some power plants to " increase [mercury]
, while others turn a profit selling unused pollution allowances." The
new "cap-and-trade" policy rolls back a plan created by the EPA in 2000
which "would have mandated curtailing emissions at every plant by the
maximum amount possible, which proponents said could bring a 90%
reduction in three years
using existing technology."

significantly reduces funding for the Women, Children and Infants (WIC)
program -- " a major preventative against low-weight babies.
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54741-2005Feb25.html) "
In 2010, for example, Bush's budget would cut funding for the program
by $658 million, which would require eliminating coverage for 660,000

LEAVING THE DISABLED ON THE STREET: Bush's statement about his
intervention in the Schiavo case implies that he is a champion for the
well-being of the disabled. Not quite. He is proposing " to stop financing the
construction of new housing for the mentally ill
(http://www.disnetwork.org/Housing%20Cuts%20Article.htm) and physically
handicapped." The program has existed for three decades.