Watch CBSN Live

Eradicate Poverty To End Insurance Crisis

Let me state for the record the following:

1. The expansion of federal funding for children's health insurance is by far not the most costly item forcing the United States into record deficit territory. The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. treasury secretary has asked once more to raise the debt ceiling (the amount the United States can borrow, mainly from abroad) beyond its current $8.96 trillion (with a "t") level.

"The country's debt burden was $5.7 trillion when Bush took office. Thanks primarily to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nearly $2 trillion in tax cuts, the debt has risen about 58 percent over the last six years."

Plainly put, President Bush's military spending and tax cuts are the demons pushing us toward financial disaster. That said, however, Congress seems incapable of turning Bush around on those issues and getting spending under control. Unless our political leaders can curb their fiscal licentiousness, the last thing they ought to be considering is more spending.

2. Immigrants, like native-born Americans, are good people. Cultural and ethnic diversity are bolstering America, not harming it. I am the proud granddaughter of a Cuban citizen. But mass immigration (both legal and illegal) and its massive effect on our budget and on our quality of life must be considered separately from the economic plight of individual immigrants. The fact is, many of the lower- and even middle-class kids who will benefit from an expansion of the SCHIP program are the children of immigrants.

Again, the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported last month: "Noncitizen immigrants were much more likely to be uninsured (45 percent uninsured) than native-born citizens (13 percent). The percentage of both native-born citizens and noncitizen immigrants who are uninsured increased in 2006."

The best way to provide health insurance for all American children is to eradicate poverty. An educated populace can fend for itself and is far less dependent on government handouts for family basics (such as health insurance) than an uneducated one. Congress and the president should redirect the money they would otherwise spend on handouts instead to education programs. If America offered universal quality education to all citizens at the grade school and college levels, the need for massive government supports, like SCHIP, would dwindle.

Second, we need to enforce border control and eradicate illegal immigration. We need, simultaneously, to change legal immigration policy so that we selectively allow in newcomers who contribute to our economy, instead of taking from it. If Congress and the president had the political will to do this, the battle over SCHIP would decompose like last week's trash. Do I believe for a moment that such will exists? Sadly, no.

By Bonnie Erbe

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue