(It is time to send U.S. Sen Jim Inhofe into retirement. State Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City), who is running against Inhofe in 2008, worked diligently in a bi-partisan effort last legislative session to pass the “All Kids Act,” which increases health care coverage for children.)
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, the infamous global warming denier, has turned his legendary right-wing wrath against Oklahoma children.
The 72-year-old Inhofe is actively working to stop an appropriate and much needed expansion of a popular children’s health insurance program, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), even though he represents a state with high rates of uninsured children. Inhofe, echoing President George Bush, calls the expansion a new “entitlement” program for the middle class and even issued a press release about it.
The bill would add $35 billion over five years to the $5 billion insurance program and would be funded by raising cigarette taxes. By contrast, the Iraq invasion and ensuing occupation, supported by Inhofe, have already cost close to $500 billion and are not funded by a dedicated revenue source. Bush recently asked for another $200 billion to fund the occupation. This would bring the occupation’s basic costs to $700 billion.
Bush has vetoed the bill expanding the insurance program. Both the House and Senate passed the expansion bill by wide majorities. Many Republicans joined with Democrats on the issue. About 70,000 Oklahoma children are now covered under the program. Health officials say another 40,000 might be eligible for the program if Congress rejects the Bush veto. (If the votes remain the same, the Senate can override the veto but the House cannot.) There are over 140,000 uninsured children in the state.
Ivan Holmes, chairperson of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said this in response to Inhofe’s vote and press release, “As a U.S. Senator, Jim Inhofe enjoys some of the most generous health care benefits in America. But, when Oklahoma middle income working families can no longer afford health insurance for about 40,000 children, he tells them, ‘tough luck.'”
U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, the only Democrat in Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation, recently reversed course on the bill, saying he would not support Bush’s veto. Holmes commended Boren for his decision.
“It is encouraging that we have one Congressional Representative in Oklahoma who cares about Children’s health,” Holmes said.
Inhofe continues to support Bush’s ideological stances despite recent poll numbers that show only 39 percent of Oklahomans approve of the president’s performance.
It is simply ludicrous to politicize the expansion of this program. A vast majority of Oklahomans and Americans know our health care system needs reform. If Inhofe and Bush want to test our kids relentlessly under No Child Left Behind, then at the very least they should make sure they have halfway decent health care. What are Inhofe’s ideas about improving health care for all Oklahomans, even those with health insurance?
Fortunately, Inhofe is up for re-election in 2008. His opponent, State Sen. Andrew Rice (D-Oklahoma City) worked diligently in a bi-partisan effort last legislative session to get the “All Kids Act” passed, which increases health care cpverage for children.. Rice says wants to improve the ailing health care system for all Oklahomans.
In a sign that Oklahomans want a new direction, Rice raised $312,000 in campaign funds the last eight weeks. His campaign grows in momentum. Click here to get involved with or donate to Rice’s quest to send Inhofe into retirement.
In another sign that Oklahomans want a new direction, John Edwards leads all presidential candidates here (yes, that includes the Republicans) in a recent poll.