In 1960, John F. Kennedy, who had been shocked by the hunger he saw in West Virginia, made the fight against hunger a theme of his presidential campaign. After his election he created the modern food stamp program, which today helps millions of Americans get enough to eat.
But Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world’s richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here’s what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” which made him a national political figure: “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”
Today’s leading conservatives are Reagan’s heirs. If you’re poor, if you don’t have health insurance, if you’re sick — well, they don’t think it’s a serious issue. In fact, they think it’s funny.
On Wednesday, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded S-chip, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing health insurance to an estimated 3.8 million children who would otherwise lack coverage.
In anticipation of the veto, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had this to say: “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.” Heh-heh-heh.
Most conservatives are more careful than Mr. Kristol. They try to preserve the appearance that they really do care about those less fortunate than themselves. But the truth is that they aren’t bothered by the fact that almost nine million children in America lack health insurance. They don’t think it’s a problem...
Read the whole thing.
If you believe Krugman, conservatives are evil because they don't think a public health insurance program for the poor should be expanded to include families earning three times the poverty level (at just over $60,000 a year). Perhaps we should agree with Krugman, that Conservatives are evil because they demand a little honesty from politics, for example insisting from the Democratic congressional majority that they announce the expansion of SCHIPs for what it is - and a push for a socialized health care entitlement. Or perhaps people should agree with Krugman that conservatives are evil because they can see ahead to the collapse of widespread access to the world's finest healthcare amid health rationing and endless waits to see a physician, which is likely if the expansion of SCHIPs crowds out private insurers, ultimately driving up premiums to the point of breaking the market-driven health delivery system.
Or, conservatives might be right to back Bush: It wouldn't be funny to pile even more hardships upon those who desperately need the help. Certainly there are better ways to expand access to health coverage than destroying a system working well for the majority of Americans.
The last laugh will be on liberals when the price tag comes due and everyone's stranded in the waiting line to reform our disastrously socialized health care system.