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Healthcare, involving children, a
serious issue - Johnny Jackson

I wonder if President Bush has chosen the wrong issue to stand firm on, with his veto against expanding children's health insurance.

He seems anxious to reclaim the specs of his fiscally responsible reputation -- at least, what's left of it -- in his latest term as president.

The issues, here, revolve around the loathed socialization of healthcare. The House and Senate-approved Children's Health Insurance Program subsidy would mean an extra $35 billion over five years for the program, effectively extending healthcare coverage to some 4 million more children than the program currently serves.

Bush only wants funding to increase by $5 billion, which, according to the laws of algebra, would mean significantly fewer children would benefit from the expansion.

But expanding healthcare would seem to put us one step closer to what so many people are dreading, socialized healthcare, favoring groups many believe don't really need the coverage.

What's more, the expansion comes in the heat of the race for the White House, in which Republicans are not necessarily favored, and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), the so-called 'madam of healthcare,' is doing extremely well in preliminary polls.

Here is what I like about what Capitol Hill has done.

The program's subsidy would be funded through an increased federal cigarette tax of $1 per pack, a 61-cents increase. The result is taxation of a bad, toxic habit and having it finally pay back to a system it has so often abused in various ways, including its connection to cancer.

Having said that, I have to be fair.

For instance, I wouldn't be able to argue nearly as effectively in taxing gasoline. Although, its use is a bad, toxic habit, arguably deadlier by the gallon than cigarettes. Why not tax gasoline, which also adds to the plight of healthcare in this country by way of pollution, speed, and DUI-related accidents and deaths.

Let's charge a dollar in tax per every gallon of gasoline sold, and let's send that money to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the American Cancer Society, or to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

There is my point for Bush.

But, I do believe he should step carefully through this minefield of emotions and seriously consider a thoughtful compromise on the issue.

I and my father, proud alums of children's hospitals as newborns and infants, would greatly appreciate the sentiment-turned-to-action on behalf of the millions of children who stand to benefit from that cigarette tax today.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at jjackson@henryherald.com or at (770) 957 - 9161.