Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Kennedy Blasts GOP For Willingness To Fund War But Not Health Care

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and a longtime champion for working Americans and children, blasted his Republican colleagues Tuesday afternoon for their opposition to funding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

"Every child in America ought to have a healthy start. We are about here in the United States Senate, we are about expressing priorities," said Kennedy on the Senate floor. "Those of us on this side of the aisle and a group on the other side, a small group on the other side, courageous group on the other side have stated that same concept, that every child in America should have a healthy start, number one. And number two, that every parent in America should be relieved of the anxiety about worrying whether they have sufficient resources to be able to make sure that their child is going to receive decent quality of health care."

And he torched Republicans for failing to see the profound impact that a lack of basic health care has on so many American families.
"Those are revolutionary thoughts, huh? Those are surprising concepts; is that right? Evidently, our friends on the other side of the aisle get all worked up about that, those two concepts -- that all children in this country should have a healthy start and that mothers and fathers should be relieved from the anxiety that when their child has an earache or their child has a sore throat or their child has a headache, they have to wonder whether their child is $150 or $175 sick, because that is what it costs to take them to the emergency room.

"So they wait overnight. They let the child get a little sicker. They have a sleepless night. They worry. They hope and they pray that their child gets better. Well, we in this body say that America can do better."
The Senate is currently debating legislation that would reauthorize SCHIP and boost the program's funding by $35 billion over five years, with Republicans against a proposal to pay for the increase by raising taxes on cigarettes.

Kennedy singled out Republican Whip Trent Lott of Mississippi for his fussing over the cost of the SCHIP program, which in its entirety is a fraction of what the Iraq occupation has cost the American people.

"I listened to my friend, and he is my friend, from Mississippi talking about the cost of this program, $60 billion over five years. That's what we're spending in five months in Iraq! Five months in Iraq! What would the American people rather have, coverage for their children or continued conflict in Iraq where we're losing our young men and women," said the Massachusetts Senator, who has served in Congress for 45 years.

And he further cut to the heart of what is undoubtedly at the center of Republican opposition to SCHIP, which is that much of it is to be funded by demanding that huge GOP donors in the tobacco industry pay for some of the health problems caused by their products.

Here's the video of Kennedy's speech:

"This is a measure that speaks for action, it speaks for justice, it speaks for fairness, it speaks for our values," said Kennedy.

And for those of you who say there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans, please watch the video again.