May 23, 2005

Child Survival Initiative

This is an initiative that I have put together. The purpose is to offer Democrats a cohesive pro-life, pro-infant, pro-child strategy to offer the American people. Other bills that are already in consideration could be added.

The Infant & Child Well-Being Program
Infant and Children Survival Bill.
Under Republican leadership infant and child mortality has risen every year, the first increases in infant death for 43 years. Yet, instead of remedying the problem, the latest Republican budget will continue to increase the number of infants and children that die in our country. We must not forsake the welfare of our children for the welfare of MegaCorporations.

•Infants and Children in our society have been relegated to second class citizen status behind Mega-Corporations and their interests. Infant mortality had decreased for 43 years until 2001. Under the Republicans, infant mortality and child mortality has begun to rise again. We rank behind such “Super Powers" as Italy, Norway, and Poland in the most vital statistic – keeping our children alive. Republicans will counter that we try to save more preemies than any other country, which is why our rates increase. To counter that, we also rank 24th in the world in Child Mortality, which is defined by the death of children between the ages of 12-59 months.

•The new Republican budget cuts Medicaid benefits. As pointed out by the March of Dimes, THE organization responsible for stopping polio, THE organization that has done more for children’s health than any other; “Medicaid is the single most important source of coverage for maternity services, accounting for 1.4 million (37%) of births in hospitals.”

•This bill should seek to increase funding for any program that might increase the chances of survival for infants and children. Opposition to this bill would place Republicans against saving babies.

Ending Curable Childhood Diseases Bill.
The budget of the Republican Party will result in an increase in preventable childhood diseases. We must not ignore preventable childhood diseases for the sake of larger deficits and more handouts to Mega-Corporations.

•The Republican budget cuts all funds earmarked for neonatal testing. In case you are not aware, there are 29 tests that all neonates are recommended to receive. This takes a few heel pricks of blood. These tests are all for metabolic diseases.

•Why test? Because if you find out that a child has the disease you give them supplements and they live a perfectly normal life. What happens if they are not tested and you don’t find out until later in life? Too late, they will grow up to be mentally retarded, physically retarded, or dead.

•This bill would fund half of the monies required for states to test every newborn for metabolic diseases. Opposition to this bill would require Republicans to defend increases in PREVENTABLE childhood diseases, which will result in more healthy children becoming mentally and physically retarded or dead. In addition, this would allow state Democrats around the country to argue for preventing childhood diseases, while their Republican counterparts must argue AGAINST preventing childhood diseases.

No Homeless nor Hungry Children

The number of children in poverty decreased every year under Democratic leadership, and has increased every year under Republican leadership. While we continue arguing over the causes of poverty, children go homeless, hungry, and die on the streets. No child has a choice in being homeless, but we adults have the choice and the responsibility to care for these children. (This argument makes a good segway when the Republicans try to move the argument to choice/abortion.)

•In this country, right now, 27 million children are growing up in low-income families. Of these 27 million children, 83% of them have at least one working parent. These numbers are not evenly divided either, with 42% of children under age 6, nearly 10 million, living in poverty.

Buried within the thousands of pages of the Republican budget are two important features. First, more program benefits for MegaCorporations; second, cuts in program benefits that feed our nation’s hungriest children. When will the party of Aristocrats and Tycoons be honest about their priorities? Corporate welfare over child welfare (repeat ad nauseum).

•Millions of children in our country suffer from hunger, while millions more suffer from chronic undernutrition, the under-consumption of essential nutrients. This nutrient deficiency can lead to serious health problems, including impaired cognitive development, growth failure, physical weakness, anemia and stunted growth. These problems lead to irreparable damage to our children. The number of Americans who were hungry, at risk of hunger, or food insecure rose in 2001 to 33.6 million. This includes over 6 million households with children.

We must stop ignoring children who, through no choice of their own, are thrown into homelessness. When families fall into homelessness because of economic downturns, the result is the dissolution of the family, as children are torn from their parents and forced into foster homes. Fighting child homelessness is a win-win situation for society; you end up with a more successful child and it costs less than the alternatives.

•Over one million children will experience homelessness this year. Can you believe that? Can you imagine the fear, anger, and shame you must feel if you bring your child into homelessness? According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, one of the major reasons for homelessness is the disparity between the minimum wage and home costs. “In no jurisdiction does a minimum wage job provide enough income to afford the rent of a modest apartment. In 1970, there were 300,000 more affordable housing units available than there were low-income households in need. In 2001, there were 4.7 million more low-income households in need than there were affordable housing units. Housing vouchers have been shown to end family homelessness. Nationally, the average cost of placing the children of a homeless family in foster care is $47,608, while the average annual cost for a permanent housing subsidy and supportive services for a family of equal size is about $9,000.”

•This bill could include a number of programs. Increasing the minimum wage would be an immediate winner because so many Republicans voted against it. Even Wal-Mart employees are starting to organize for higher pay. Housing vouchers would be a very effective tool, because you could clearly state that it saves the Federal Government $36,000 a year for one child, and $84,000 a year for two children. In addition, children that grow up homeless are more likely to enter the welfare roles, they are more likely to have mental problems, and they are more likely to burden society than to help it. Thus, putting them in houses is cheaper and makes the world a better, safer place.

•Feeding hungry children and getting them out of poverty should be a priority, but it may prove hard to sell by itself – it seems that our opponents believe the churches will take care of everybody. In the context of these other programs, it should be possible to sell food and shelter for infants as children (Democrats) vs. Corporations (Republicans).


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