Wednesday, February 02, 2005

John Kerry Wants to Hear from YOU!

Or...How We Can Save Social Security and Get Universal Health Care All in One Go

I just got an email from John Kerry today. In it, he outlines his "Put Kids First" campaign, which includes proposed legislation for universal health care for children.  He also includes a toll free number (call now, John is standing by!) asking for feedback from folks supporting this initiative. Well, I called and gave him an earful, and you should, too. What's at stake here is not just universal health care, but also shaming the President into saving social security.

The GOP made a fatal flaw in their social security talking points when they brought up the subject of race.  African Americans have a shorter lifespan, they argue, therefore they're getting screwed by the social security system. Ergo, privatization helps African Americans because they can pass onto their families a small amount of money they pay into the system if they die before reaching retirement age. Therefore, logically, it's worth spending over one trillion dollars to privatize the system because we want to be fair to African Americans.

What's wrong with this picture? The President presented no plan to actually do anything about African American life expectancies.

According to the American Public Health Association, African-American infants are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday as white infants. In addition, African-American infant mortality rates are increasing. The rate of SIDS among African-Americans is twice that of whites.  Also, the rate of deaths due to prematurity/low birthweight for black infants was nearly four times that for white ones.

Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Health Statistics recently released a report that stated:

"Life expectancy in the United States was the highest ever in 2002, but infant mortality increased from a rate of 6.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2001 to a rate of 7.0 per 1,000 births in 2002, the first year since 1958 that the rate has not declined or remained unchanged...

...Three causes of death accounted for most of the increase in infant mortality: congenital anomalies (birth defects), disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight, and maternal complications of pregnancy. Deaths from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) declined between 2001 and 2002, continuing a long-term downward trend."

So, the question on the table is: do we spend one trillion dollars to privatize social security so that African Americans can pass on a small amount of the money paid into the system to their families, or do we spend considerably less money funding universal health care for all children, thereby giving African American babies a much greater possibility of surviving until their 1st, 2nd and 3rd birthdays? What problem more urgently needs to be fixed: social security, which even the most conservative estimates states can survive in tact without any changes until the year 2018; or saving the life of one African American baby, whose chances of seeing his or her first birthday are increasingly getting worse?

Anyone with a moral conscience can see that the more pressing need is saving the life of the African American baby.

Please call John Kerry's hotline right now at 1-866-876-4490 and support his legislation to provide these babies with the healthcare they need right now...and while you're at it, also let him know that THIS is the real crisis facing America right now, not social security and Bush's privatization scheme.

At 10:16 AM, Blogger grannyhelen said...

BTW-this is a grannyhelen post...thought I'd let y'all know!

At 12:50 PM, Blogger sandy said...

This is an excellent point. I was mortified when Bush used the lower African American lifespan to justify his social security scheme. I was thinking more along the lines of doing more to solve inner city violence, but poverty and lack of health care contribute as much. It's just preposterous that Bush would use problems in the African American community to justify heaping on more problems by taking away guaranteed social security benefits.

After folks have made the phone call to Senator Kerry, they can email their senators and ask them to co-sponsor this legislation. You can use our Alert form,

And visit our web site and grab the graphic to get more people to join in the effort to sign the petition, call Senator Kerry and email their Senators. We can't let the real crisis of health care get moved to the back burner, or off the stove altogether.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger sandy said...

This is an excellent point. I was horrified when I heard Bush use the shorter lifespan of African Americans to justify his social security scheme. It's like hitting your head with a hammer so you won't notice the paper cut in your pinky. It's just preposterous to me that Bush would use suffering to justify hurting people even more.

After folks have made their call and signed the petition, they can also urge their senators to co-sponsor this legislation. We've got a tool here, and a banner that can be posted to get others to join the effort:

We need to keep the focus on the real crisis in this country, health care.

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