(Note: Part 1 can be found here)
OK, earlier I took a look at the Children’s Defense Fund’s ratings of our senators, and how they came do decide that John McCain was the biggest kiddie-hater in the Senate. But I ran out of room after only listing half the criteria; here are the other five Senate votes that, in the CDF’s eyes, were the most critical for America’s children.
6. Help Youth Pay for College
College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, H.R. 2669, Conference Report
Agreed to 79-12 (R 34-12, D 43-0, I 2-0) on September 7, 2007. Enacted as P. L. 110-084.
Vote Description: This Conference Report redirected federal funding from student loan firms
to aid for students and college graduates. It also increased Pell grant awards and improved
debt forgiveness provisions for certain public-sector workers.
CDF Action Council Position: Yes. A yes vote on this Conference Report was a vote for children
because it would increase opportunities for youth to go to college, especially youth from lower income families.
I can kinda see the appeal here — shift money from student loans to outright grants. Considering the default rate and hassle in getting those loans repaid, it makes a cynical kind of sense — why not just call it a gift up front, and not bother expecting it to be repaid?
But here’s a counter-argument: wouldn’t keeping these as loans be a good move towards teaching the students responsibility? To remind them that they owe this nation, in a very literal sense, for their education, and have an obligation to repay that debt?
Also, I’d be very curious to see just what “certain public-sector workers” qualified under this bill. I strongly suspect there would be at least a couple of categories that I would cheerfully categorize as parasites, and we certainly don’t need to be subsidizing them.
7. Extend Health Coverage to 3.1 Million More Uninsured Children
Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, H.R. 976, Motion to Concur with
Passed 67-29 (R 18-29, D 47-0, I 2-0) on September 27, 2007.
Vetoed by President Bush on October 3, 2007.
Vote Description: The Senate voted a second time on this legislation because the House
made changes when it passed the bill. The bill would reauthorize the State Children’s Health
Insurance Program (SCHIP) for five years and increase federal funding for child health coverage
through SCHIP and Medicaid by nearly $35 billion over five years. It would be funded by a 61
cent per pack federal cigarette tax increase.
CDF Action Council Position: Yes. This bill would extend health coverage to one-third (3.1
million) of the more than nine million uninsured children in America. It includes new funding
and policy improvements needed by states to enroll and provide health coverage to millions
of children who are currently eligible but not enrolled in SCHIP and Medicaid.
Oh, they’re going to count SCHIP twice? I really don’t feel the need to repeat my arguments from the morning. Apparently these people are paid by the word or something, but I’m not. Everything I said back at point five applies here, in double.
8. Support Education for Children of Immigrants
DREAM Act/Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, S. 2205,
Cloture on the Motion to Proceed
Rejected 52-44 (R 12-36, D 38-8, I 2-0) on October 24, 2007.
Vote Description: The Senate rejected a motion to allow a vote on a bill that would have permitted children of illegal immigrants who entered the United States before age 16 and who have lived here at least five years to gain conditional legal status and eventual citizenship if they graduate from high school and attend college or join the military for at least two years.
CDF Action Council Position: Yes. The Senate denied many children of immigrants the
opportunity for college, the military and citizenship when it refused to even allow a vote on this
This one act did more to galvanize those of us who are most angry about illegal aliens than pretty much anything else. It would have granted in-state tuition and a path to citizenship to illegal aliens who happened to be children.
One of the reasons I (and many others) opposed it was that one of the key motivators for illegal aliens to come to the United States is to gain benefits for their children. Offering even more benefits, including a path to amnesty for those children, would have made the incentives for the illegal aliens even that much more tempting.
Also, it bothered a lot of people that it would have set up a circumstance where it would have been better to be an illegal alien than a legal alien — or even an American citizen.
Let me cite a hypothetical example. Imagine a family that lives in Nashua, New Hampshire. (It’s a city right on the Massachusetts border.) Both parents work in Massachusetts, paying taxes to the Bay State. Their child wishes to attend a Massachusetts state college — say, the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, just a short trip down the highway. Even though both parents pay taxes to Massachusetts, that student would still have to pay out-of-state tuition and “Operating Fee” — $20,301.00. On the other hand, an illegal alien living in Lowell would only have to fork over $8,648.00 for the same privilege. In essence, the American from New Hampshire would be paying a penalty of $11,653.00.
I have a deep, philosophical problem with any program that makes it more beneficial to be an illegal alien than an American citizen. A pity that the CDF doesn’t agree.
9. Fund Child Health and Education
Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008,
H.R. 3043, Motion to Recede and Concur
Passed 56-37 (R 10-36, D 44-1, I 2-0) on November 7, 2007.
Vetoed by President Bush on November 13, 2007.
Vote Description: This bill would provide $150.7 billion in fiscal year 2008 for specific programs
in the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and related agencies.
CDF Action Council Position: Yes. This bill would have helped children by providing some
funding increases for key health, mental health, education and job training programs and rejecting cuts proposed by the President in other important programs for children.
Once again, the CDF’s mentality shines through: if a single aspect of a vote would somehow, in their eyes, benefit children, then it must be passed or you hate children. I also find the idea that “job training” is a direct benefit for children — I thought the job of a child was to be a child, and “job training” was mainly for adults. Silly me.
10. Give Children a Head Start
Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act, H.R. 1429, Conference Report
Agreed to 95-0 (R 48-0, D 45-0, I 2-0) on November 14, 2007. Enacted as P.L. No. 110-134.v
Vote Description: This Conference Report expanded access to Head Start for more children,
prioritized expansion of the Early Head Start Program, and made other improvements for the
youngest children in the program. It also required quality improvements, including new associate
and bachelor degree requirements for teachers and increased annual in-service training, and
improved coordination between Head Start and other programs for young children.
CDF Action Council Position: Yes. A vote for the improvements in Head Start, which
has successfully served children for more than four decades, was a vote to help children get
ready for school.
Gee, I thought it was the responsibility of parents to “help children get ready for school,” not the federal government. Or, at least, the job of state and local governments.
This, more than anything else, shows the agenda of the CDF: to supplant the duties of parents towards their children, and get the federal government (not even the local or state government) directly involved with child-raising.
I was generally opposed to this from the moment I first started thinking about politics. It’s been my observation that if you want to find the most inefficient, most ineffective, most impersonal, and most heavy-handed way to do something, you should put the federal government in charge of it. And it seems to be the CDF’s goal to put the federal government as an essential part of the upbringing of every child, to make as many parents as possible dependent on Washington for all sorts of things that have traditionally been the responsibility of the parents or the local community.
My opinion was hardened by the abrupt closing of the Bill Clinton/Janet Reno Child Care Center in Waco, Texas on April 19, 1993. Saying that they were afraid that children were being abused, the federal government triggered a series of events that kept 21 children from potential abuse by the expedient solution of killing both the children and their potential abusers.