Defying Republican Assault on Women Health and Children Programs?
For more than twenty decades in America, women have empowered themselves, fought decisively to gain the right to vote, challenged the glass ceiling to enter corporate board rooms, triumphed in academics and business with equal footing and held fort in the storm of political dynamics, but today, their dream to assert their right to their body is still in question. Due to aggression from self-styled conservatives who have been able to work themselves into main stream Republican Party stalwarts and occupy legislative positions and power in U.S. House of Representatives, these latter-day fiscal and social conservatives have not only laid ambush against federal and states’ budgets, but also, against safety net social programs that are meant to help establish somewhat of an equal footing for all children as they lounge into life time learning experience.
When Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson signed unto a war against poverty and announced the Head Start Program in January 1965 during his administration, it was at the plodding of a committee headed by Lady Bird Johnson, a woman, and Sargent Shriver, one of the most eminent diplomat and public policy experts of the 20th century, a man who was the driving force behind the creation of the American Peace Corps and Job Corps, programs that are now celebrating milestones and changing the lives of many Americans. Now, a crop of neophytes in the US House of Representatives, some whom today will be common illiterates, if they had not had the opportunity of benefiting from a program as the head start that they are choosing to underfund in the name of fiscal responsibility, just as they attack planned parenthood and the WIC programs. How people easily forget?
By this new assault from conservative Republicans on the hill, this blog is calling on all well meaning persons, Friends of Head Start Association and the National Head Start Association, to stand up and ask Republicans to back off. Nothing to me is more important in the life of a nation, than a program to help children learn and fine tune the skills for survival in a competitive and challenging world environment. Education and early-school learning are fundamental pre-requisites to a surviving democracy. They are the only equalizers for the rich and poor children, and when you take the sources of funding or reduce the amount of money that goes into these endeavors, you are throwing sand in the face of the public. In case you missed CBS 60 Minutes Program tonight, Scot Pelley just reported that one in four American Children are living in poverty because of the pains of the recession: take that to the bank as you attempt to underfund one of their safety nets!
Early-school head-start program is one government investment that many, if not all educators, will inform you is worth all the investment; and, it is one area of government budget that must be sacrosanct if we, as a nation, is not going to uphold our previous gains in educational accomplishments and do better in the coming decade in the effort to achieve equality of achievements among our various population groups. In a nation where the winner takes all, to be disadvantaged at the beginning of life, to be denied an opportunity to get an equal footing in preparing to learn is tantamount to early marginalization of our youths and disparate groups in our society.
Children who can benefit from the Head Start Program are not only being marginalized when this program is scheduled to be underfunded, they are being set back in the difficult terrain of life’s competition. When a child cannot get all the help he or she needs before lounging on the learning experience, it becomes even more difficult for them to catch-up at K-12 level environment. When a Republican governor or lawmaker threatens to lay-off teachers, cut health care to children and women and take milk away from the mouth of children, then something is going wrong, if no one is cautioning them of the implication of their actions. Any assault on funding or defunding the Head Start, the Planned Parenthood, and Women, Infant and Children programs borders on an assault on the sovereign rights of men and the fundamental decency protected in the constitution, including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
From Coast to Coast, sea to shining sea, more children entering the primary schools would not have made it to college, nor wouldn’t have even made it past the sixth grade, if there wasn’t a support program like the head start for the low-income families. As the gap in learning between races, income groups and nations across the globe widens, as the United States continues to under-perform in standardized tests comparatively to the rest of the advanced economies, some rather ill-informed legislators in the Tea and Republican Party want to under-fund the few safety net programs designed to help women and their children get grips on life. As the number of people who are likely to benefit from improved health care service are about to increase, due to the reform to the American Health Care, another area of the national health system that helps women take control over their bodies is under assault: the Planned Parenthood. The new conservative agitators want to manhandle health care reform law, they want to deny a woman’s right to her body and they want to take milk from the mouth of poor children, after bank rolling Wall Street greed and crookedness. Will someone pinch me, I am lost in a dream land!
Paraphrasing the Protestant Pastor and social activist, when they came for the teachers, I remained silent, for I was no longer a teacher, they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out, because I was not a resident of Wisconsin, Ohio or Indiana, when they came against a woman’s right to her body, I said nothing, because I was not a female, now they came for the women, infant and the head start program, and I said it is time to stand up and be counted, before they throw away the baby and the bath tub. As if to advocate for the poor underclass, the working poor and their families, fourteen Democrats in the State of Wisconsin stood up against Republicans are they charged against Unions and their state’s budget.
Just as the Republican State Governor in Wisconsin is being heralded on by the Republican National Congress as both attempt to demonize the Wisconsin Union bosses with fallacious advertisements, associating the current assault of Governor Walker on the ordinary workers in Wisconsin to the failures of Democrats to be fiscally responsible, many of us are wondering why kettle is calling the pot black! In case anyone forgets, the economy tanked under eight years of a Republican White-house; and, no amount of social program cutting will correct for the fiscal irresponsibility that has been lopsidedly Republican.
Under the Republican Whitehouse in the past decade, we have had financial budget busting, first for a tax cut, then fighting two foreign wars and then, relaxing the national financial regulations so that Wall Street can play casino with the lives of millions of Americans, including the issuance of mortgages derivatives that practically killed the economy and sent the housing market into the ditches. No one will ever forget that Republican President Bush initiated and advanced active argument for the bailout of AIG, Morgan Stanley and Chase, among other financial firms when the economy was tanking. All of a sudden Republicans are now likening the failures of their long administration on two years of Obama’s Administration. Gentlemen and Ladies, it is going to take more than two years to correct the anomalies created by Republicans for more than eight years in the financial market and the economy!
What all these discussions tonight have in common, is that they point out the major impacts of the Republican’s assault on the status of women’s health and children developmental programs. What is familiar with Republicans when it comes to managing the US Budget Deficit is the assumption – an assumption that is rapidly becoming as obsolete as petticoats and log cabins – that you can correct for the short comings of irresponsible fiscal budget management by cutting taxes for the rich, slashing government spending and assaulting the social safety net for the poor, including underfunding head start, planned parenthood, women infant and children programs, among others.
The position of this blog is not that fiscal responsibility regarding budget management is not in order; rather, it is to say that the traditional vision of Republicans for managing budget deficit is out of sync with reality. Republicans do not have the magic to fix the mess they have created in the past years. Tax cut and slashing government programs would not replace the huge budget deficit from fighting unnecessary foreign wars and allowing for the expansion of corporate greed and welfare on Wall Street. When Republicans resort to gimmicks like cutting funding for Head Start, Planned Parenthood and the WIC programs, you understand that increasingly the party is falling out of torch with reality!