Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bush's 'National Family Week' Hypocrisy

Did you know we're smack-dab in the middle of National Family Week 2005? Neither did I until I read the formal proclamation issued by President Bush on Monday declaring November 20 through November 26, 2005, as a time to "join together in observing this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities to honor our Nation's families."

"Families give our society direction and purpose. During National Family Week, we celebrate the many contributions families make to our country," reads the president's proclamation. "Throughout America's history, families have been the foundation of our society and a source of stability and love for every generation. Strong families teach children to live moral lives and help us pass down the values that define a caring society."

Stirring stuff, George, you big old hypocrite.

This must be the same "caring society" that, under his administration, has on three occasions in 2005 swatted down funding in the Senate for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). I'm sure the president simply forgot that this is the safety-net program that helps keep poor children, the elderly and the disabled from freezing to death during winters with high energy costs -- like the one we're about to have.

Didn't the Senate, under this administration's "compassionate conservatism," shoot down funding for Pell grants – to educate our "strong families" -- and deny more money for helping pre-school kids with the Head Start program?

And it must be tough for Bush to sign a proclamation like this without the ever-present smirk on his face, knowing how that pesky Ted Kennedy tried to help working families with an increase to the federal minimum wage in both March and October of 2005 -- only to have Bush's buddy Bill Frist shoot it down both times in the Senate.

But that wasn't all Bush said in his heartfelt proclamation.

"At this crucial hour in the history of freedom, our Nation is grateful for the sacrifice of our military families who love and support the men and women of our Armed Forces," said the presidential decree. "My Administration is committed to providing a better quality of life for our military families and helping them plan for the future."

Hey, something about that doesn't sound right...

After all, it was just last week that Senate Republicans killed two bills to help military families. One would have made combat pay of those serving in Iraq eligible for the earned-income tax credit and the other would have funded an additional $500 million for post-traumatic stress and substance abuse counseling for returning Vets.

Both were sponsored by Democrats and both were defeated by Republicans. And I'm sure just a couple of phone calls from a truly-caring president – whose party controls the Senate – would have made those measures go through like the proverbial hot knife through butter.

And, in March, Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) introduced an amendment to increase Veterans medical care by $2.8 billion in 2006. It lost by a vote of 53-47 and you'll never guess which side of the aisle cast the 53 votes against the funding . Then Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) took another shot at it in April and asked for only $2 billion in medical care for Veterans – same result except, this time it was defeated by a 54-46 vote by those caring, family-oriented sorts in the GOP.

Anyway, it's a nice thought for a proclamation – and I truly considered not making fun of it.

But when I look at all of the aforementioned items, how Team Bush doesn't give a damn about the millions of American families without health insurance and the profoundly anti-family impact of the Republican Bankruptcy Bill passed this year, I quickly came to my senses.