Bush to Kids: Grow Up!

Some people are upset that President Bush has vetoed the bill expanding State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Even Republicans are worried that the party will be seen as cruel and uncaring, an impression that was reinforced when William Kristol defended the veto by saying, "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." But I hope Republicans will back President Bush's get-tough policies and sustain his veto, even if the party is seen as anti-children. President Bush's father once said, "Message: I care." But his son is a different, bolder man. "Message: Grow up!" he is telling our nation's youth with his veto and it's about time someone did.

President Bush is always thinking about the future. He knows that however the War in Iraq and the War on Terror are viewed now, history will vindicate him after he is dead. But the President is deeply concerned about the future generations who will fight the wars he has bequeathed them. While our enemies are preparing their youth to fight future jihads, we are lagging behind, pampering our kids and conditioning them to depend on the government. With this veto the President has stood up to Congress' plans to turn more of our children into wards of the state by expanding SCHIP and started weaning them off of government dependence. Toughening up our children will make sure they are up to the task of fighting the wars of the future.

We can only hope it is not too late to save our spoiled little brats. The Children's Health Insurance Program is already just giving away health care for free to millions of children, but Congress and many states are trying to turn more of our kids into little welfare princes and princesses. Luckily, the Bush Administration has stepped in and not only resisted efforts to increase the program but has created a new set of stiff rules that will throw millions of children out of the government giveaway program. President Bush, who is a thinker, is opposed to the program on "philosophical grounds, " he says. "When you expand eligibility," Bush said, "you're really beginning to open up an avenue for people to switch from private insurance to the government." If children really want health care so badly, the President has suggested, they can always go to hospital emergency rooms.

Sure, a few disease-ridden children whose parents can't afford to take them to the doctor will spread their illnesses to other children in school. But that's why we have home-schooling and expensive private schools that filter out those who cannot afford health care. Parents are free to decide if they want to make the extra effort or spend the extra money to keep their kids safe. With socialized medicine, parents wouldn't have any choice at all.

Liberals believe that if they recruit our children at a young age to the idea that health care should be free that will make it a lot easier to impose socialized medicine on us in the future. But President Bush wants children to learn that they cannot just run to the doctor every time they have a sore throat or runny nose or want plastic surgery because all their friends are doing it and not have to pay for it. It's better they learn now that the reason we have the best health care in the world is that we don't just give it away to anyone. Imagine how unprepared our children would be when they grow up and discover that many adults don't get to have any health care at all.

Health care is just one area where the President is trying to nip the prepubescent culture of dependence in the bud. He has also resisted efforts to tighten rules on imports from China, which would increase government red tape and threaten our market economy, but more importantly, would condition children to believe that they can depend on the government to protect them from all the bad stuff that's out there. "The overall philosophy is regulations are bad and they are too large a cost for industry, and the market will take care of it," explained Rick Melberth, director of regulatory policy at OMBWatch. "That's been the philosophy of the Bush administration." The Bush Administration has resisted efforts to increase inspections of toys by hiring more inspectors and running up government deficits and to make businesses more unprofitable by subjecting them to more red tape.

The market, in fact, has done a fine job of taking care of recent glitches like the discovery that Mattel toys manufactured in China contained lead paint. Mattel responded exactly as a company should in a free-market economy. It listened to parents who complained that its toys could kill their children and after considering their objections, launched a massive recall of toys featuring Sesame Street characters like Thomas the Train and Dora the Explorer. That is the way capitalism works.

But advocates of government red tape claim Mattel's efforts are not enough. They want inefficient government bureaucrats to get involved instead of letting industries police themselves. They point out that 80% of toys are now made in China and that few of these toys are ever inspected. But how many parents want to be faced the prospect of telling their children that there will be no toys for Christmas because government red tape has made them too expensive or caused severe shortages?

We need to teach our children at a young age what it means to live in a free market economy, not turn them into budding little Marxists dependent on the nanny state. Of course, there will be some collateral damage, like the four-year-old boy who died of lead poisoning after swallowing a metal charm that came with Reebok shoes that contained 90% lead. That is the price we pay for being free. No one is too young to learn to take responsibility for their own well-being. This child was not forced by anyone to swallow his toy. It was a decision he made on his own and he paid the consequences for it. The silver lining in his tragic death is that other children will be a little bit more careful about swallowing their toys. Telling children that they can just swallow anything and not worry about the consequences because the government will protect them is a terrible lesson to teach. It will just turn them into drug addicts and overeaters later in life.

The lessons the President is teaching our children will last a lifetime. For example, some of our kids learned a valuable civics lesson when a group of them came to the White House pulling little red wagons and hauling mail bags full of petitions asking him not to veto the SCHIP legislation and were turned away at the gate. The fact that a majority of Americans support this legislation and it was passed by both houses of Congress made as little difference to the President as the fact that most Americans want us out of Iraq. Once a President has been elected by the people, the Constitution doesn't require him to listen to them. If voters who elected Democrats to get us out of the War in Iraq had learned this lesson sooner, they might not be so disappointed and disillusioned now.

Nevertheless, some nervous Republicans are worried that going after children may not be the best way to win the 2008 election. But children, of course, like many adults, don't vote. And when adults who do vote get the facts and compare the tough, highly disciplined children of the Middle East, who are being transformed into little jihadists and suicide bombers, with the caterwauling little monsters you can see in any American shopping center or urban liberal enclave, they will see that the President is right. Instead of running away from the President on this issue, I hope Republicans not only stick to their guns but make it the centerpiece of their campaign in 2008.

If the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the recalls of pet food have taught us anything it is that government cannot save us from ourselves. If people had not depended on FEMA to bail them out in New Orleans or believed that the FDA was making sure pet food was safe, then many lives might have been saved. By putting competent people in positions of power in government agencies, the Clinton Administration fooled people into thinking that government could look out for them. President Bush, however, has forced Americans to become more self-reliant. The people of New Orleans and many pet owners have already learned this important lesson. Now President Bush is bringing his message of tough love to our nation's children. Those children who have not perished from stupidly eating their toys or succumbed to preventable illnesses will be stronger because of his policies and they will thank him if they manage to become adults.

Crossposted at Jon Swift

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