Health Insurance for Kids

A cigarette tax increase to pay the health insurance coverage for most of Oregon’s well over 100,000 uninsured kids reminds me of using wood as a fuel to heat your home: You get warm chopping it, and warm again when it’s used in your wood-burning stove, furnace or fireplace.

So, here’s the comparative stretch: A person who cares both about uninsured kids and adult smokers wants uninsured kids to get the medical attention they need from the proposed 84.5-cent tax increase per pack while the increased cost of buying cigarettes could also serve to encourage smokers to stop an inarguably unhealthy habit.

What should be a no-brainer, however, threatens to fall, like so many other worthy causes, into the black hole of Oregon Legislature partisan politics. It’s reported that among Oregon House Republicans, only Vicki Berger, R-District 20, has come out in favor of this tax increase. Meanwhile, the tax increase requires a three-fifths vote in favor by the Oregon House’s sixty members.

The Oregon House continues populated by many of mean and nasty spirit; so, here’s the way the three-fifths stacks up now. The head count for approval must find at least 36 votes in favor. That number requires every Democrat to vote “Yea!” with at least five Republicans joining them. Besides Representative Berger, it’s been reported that pressure is being applied to a few other Republicans. These are Republicans who may be persuadable due to the fact that they represent politically moderate swing districts where it could be difficult for them to explain to constituents why they sided with their party rather than lend their support to meet the medical needs of uninsured children.

It is with a heavy heart that I realize Kim Thatcher, R-District 25, representing the district in which I live, is not one of those identified as a possible vote in favor even though one could think of her as possessing compassion for children, having several of her own. It would appear, unfortunately, that her concern may be to keep in lock step with FreedomWorks and the super neo-conservative political agenda of Keizer’s Russ Walker. Walker is also a parent from whom a person would expect an exception to his no new taxes mantra when it comes to the welfare of children: members of this society who cannot fend for themselves.

It’s a sad day again in Oregon when those persons charged with looking after the state’s youngest citizens will not do the right thing. Of course, no one is surprised at House Republican intransigence; for them, it’s a way of life to say “No!” to those in need of state services and “Yes!” to the special interests and (Shush, will you!) those all-expense paid trips to Maui.