Estupido! What else to call GOP opposition in the Senate to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), expanding the program to include 4 million more children, all of it funded by an always advisable raise in the federal cigarette tax. The vote was 66-32, largely along party lines. Similar legislation passed the Senate with bipartisan support last year but President Bush vetoed it twice. Why did most Republican senators fail to support the bill this time? Because it includes providing health insurance to the children of illegal immigrants as well as pregnant women.

Hmmmm. I thought the GOP was the pro-life party, yet they don’t want to give pre-natal care to a poor pregnant woman because she was not born here? Is that the way to promote the right to life? Or does the right to life only extend to Anglo children?

Stupidity as well as hypocrisy is at work here. To his credit, President Bush tried to get the Republican Party to reach out to Latinos. He saw that Latino culture - with its strong emphasis on the family and a work ethic that is second to none - was a good fit for a political party committed to promoting traditional values. As Governor in Texas, reaching out to Latinos was politically necessary even in the 1990s, but the demographics for the rest of the nation tell a similar tale.

In the 2008 presidential election, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada flipped from red to blue on the strength of Latino votes. In both 2006 and 2008, pro-immigrant Democrats defeated anti-immigrant Republicans in many congressional races in these same states and in Arizona as well. In fact, in no contest where immigration was a central issue did the anti-immigrant candidate prevail.

The GOP congressional delegations, like the Republican National Committee which votes on its new chairman today, is being held hostage by anti-immigrant extremists, people who watch Lou Dobbs and don’t get sick to their stomach. And, expanding SCHIPs was the perfect chance for the party’s congressional leaders to distance themselves from these crazies: Children should not be punished because their parents decided to bring them to America illegally and the revised SCHIPs program recognized that simple moral fact.

For all the talk about the need for bi-partisanship, here is an issue on which the Democrats must stake their claim: When it comes to defending the families of immigrants, they should not compromise. This same commitment should guide them as they pursue comprehensive immigration reform. It is not only the only morally justifiable way to proceed, it is also the way to become the dominant political party for a generation. Latinos will not forget who looked out for them and their children.

 

Comments

Anonymous | 2/1/2009 - 11:08am
For an irreverent, but honest portrait of immigration, check out www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBw1nUlf38I NumbersUSA is the hero. www.numbersusa.com/content/resources/video/recommended/immigration-gumballs.html
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 11:52am
Since undocumented workers have only fake numbers, they’ll never be able to collect the benefits these taxes are meant to pay for. Last year, the revenues from these fake numbers — that the Social Security administration stashes in the “earnings suspense file” — added up to 10 percent of the Social Security surplus. The file is growing, on average, by more than $50 billion a year. Beyond federal taxes, all illegals automatically pay state sales taxes that contribute toward the upkeep of public facilities such as roads that they use, and property taxes through their rent that contribute toward the schooling of their children. The non-partisan National Research Council found that when the taxes paid by the children of low-skilled immigrant families — most of whom are illegal — are factored in, they contribute on average $80,000 more to federal coffers than they consume. Yes, many illegal migrants impose a strain on border communities on whose doorstep they first arrive, broke and unemployed. To solve this problem equitably, these communities ought to receive the surplus taxes that federal government collects from immigrants. But the real reason border communities are strained is the lack of a guest worker program. Such a program would match willing workers with willing employers in advance so that they wouldn’t be stuck for long periods where they disembark while searching for jobs. The cost of undocumented aliens is an issue that immigrant bashers have created to whip up indignation against people they don’t want here in the first place. With the Senate having just returned from yet another vacation and promising to revisit the stalled immigration bill, politicians ought to set the record straight: Illegals are not milking the government. If anything, it is the other way around.
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 12:23pm
Adding more children to the government dole is not going to help the health care system. Physicians, hospitals, and clinics get reimbursed at rates lower than their expenses for Medicaid (30% below costs), Medicare (10% below costs), and other programs (like SCHIP). Several states don't pay Medicaid for several months at a time, if at all. Because of this, there are many areas where it is impossible to find a physician that will accept Medicaid, and the number of physicians that accept Medicare and other government programs is dwindling, as costs rise and reimbursements fall. We need a two-tier health care system, as is the norm in most of the rest of the world: 1) a national network of state, county, and rural hospitals, clinics, and physicians subsidized by the government (financially and with free electronic medical records and bulk purchasing discounts) in exchange for accepting Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs (such as SCHIP) 2) a private network of hospitals, clinics, and physicians free to set their own rates in order to recoup their costs, and free to negotiate with insurance companies for fair reimbursements for services, instead of the current system (as in California) where insurance companies can set their own arbitrary low rates and are protected by law in doing so. If we don't institute such a two-tiered system now, health care will continue to crumble. This year.
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 11:52am
Potentially, any soup kitchen that offers so much as a free lunch to an illegal could face up to five years in prison and seizure of assets. The Senate bill that recently collapsed would have tempered these draconian measures against private aid. But no one — Democrat or Republican — seems to oppose the idea of withholding public services. Earlier this year, Congress passed a law that requires everyone who gets Medicaid — the government-funded health care program for the poor — to offer proof of U.S. citizenship so we can avoid “theft of these benefits by illegal aliens,” as Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., puts it. But, immigrants aren’t flocking to the United States to mooch off the government. According to a study by the Urban Institute, the 1996 welfare reform effort dramatically reduced the use of welfare by undocumented immigrant households, exactly as intended. And another vital thing happened in 1996: the Internal Revenue Service began issuing identification numbers to enable illegal immigrants who don’t have Social Security numbers to file taxes. One might have imagined that those fearing deportation or confronting the prospect of paying for their safety net through their own meager wages would take a pass on the IRS’ scheme. Not so. Close to 8 million of the 12 million or so illegal aliens in the country today file personal income taxes using these numbers, contributing billions to federal coffers. No doubt they hope that this will one day help them acquire legal status — a plaintive expression of their desire to play by the rules and come out of the shadows. What’s more, aliens who are not self-employed have Social Security and Medicare taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks.
Anonymous | 1/30/2009 - 11:50am
Illegal immigrants paying more taxes than you think Eight million illegals pay Social Security, Medicare and income taxes. Denying public services to people who pay their taxes is an affront to America’s bedrock belief in fairness. But many “pull-up-the-drawbridge” politicians want to do just that when it comes to illegal immigrants. The fact that illegal immigrants pay taxes at all will come as news to many Americans. A stunning twothirds of illegal immigrants pay Medicare, Social Security and personal income taxes. Yet, nativists like Congressman Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., have popularized the notion that illegal aliens are a colossal drain on the nation’s hospitals, schools and welfare programs — consuming services that they don’t pay for. In reality, the 1996 welfare reform bill disqualified illegal immigrants from nearly all meanstested government programs including food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid and Medicare-funded hospitalization. The only services that illegals can still get are emergency medical care and K-12 education. Nevertheless, Tancredo and his ilk pushed a bill through the House criminalizing all aid to illegal aliens — even private acts of charity by priests, nurses and social workers.