I’ve been asking this question for some time now, but Courtney Haden puts it much more eloquently in the latest issue of the Birmingham Weekly:
…I worry about the recent revelation that Spencer Bachus hates poor children. I’d always thought our congressman a reasonably empathetic guy — he cares enough about his constituents not to draw their attention unduly with too much legislating between elections — but when I checked out the House votes on reauthorizing the SCHIP, who should be practically heading the list of Nay-sayers but the Sixth District’s one and only?
To be fair, Bachus was near the top of the list because it was in alphabetical order, but he definitely put himself on record as not wanting to expand the scope of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to give more poor kids and their families access to health care. Not, apparently, out of any deep-seated political principle (according to his website, Spence is still vociferously in favor of a Defense of Marriage constitutional amendment, but he has exactly zip to say about his position on SCHIP), but just because all the other Republicans were voting that way.
Spencer also defended his vote on SCHIP in a recent letter to the editor in which he tries to pit poor children against those whose families have slightly higher incomes, saying the poor children should get coverage first before those rich kids start cheating the system. (Spencer, does that mean you support better funding for Medicaid? You know, the program that is actually intended to provide health coverage for poor children? Gee, I see Medicare on your list of issues — old people vote, you know — but there’s nothing about Medicaid or health coverage in general.) He then goes on to play the “illegal” card, making sure we’re all horrified by the prospect that a sick child whose parents are here picking our produce, processing our chickens, or cleaning our hotel rooms might not be relegated to the emergency room after all.
The interesting thing about SCHIP is that not all the Republicans were in lockstep on this vote. With an election at hand, more than a few realized that voting against children’s health care might not be the best way to demonstrate compassionate conservatism.
Many rank and file GOPers wail about the rising costs of the SCHIP. Would that they were as concerned about the billions of dollars irretrievably poured into the bottomless rathole at the center of George and Dick’s Excellent Adventure. No one who’s consistently voted to fund the criminal boondoggle that has become permanent Iraqi occupation should be nattering about paltry millions for sick kids at home in America.
Then he moves on to my question:
Another thing that worries me is that local Democrats won’t even try to oust Bachus in the next cycle. At some point, to be taken seriously again as a statewide political party, Dems must challenge the moss-encrusted GOP incumbents in the House and Senate. They still control a shrinking patch of turf in Montgomery and at certain precinct levels, but straight-ticket Republican voting endangers those little fiefdoms.
2008 is going to be a flux-filled election year, and what better time to mount a campaign against a guy who hates poor children? Remember, all you have to do is make him deny it…
Hey, state party officials, are you listening? I know a Democratic challenger isn’t going to defeat Bachus — at least not this time. Does that mean you won’t even try? If Howard Dean can have a 50-state strategy, can’t Alabama Democrats have statewide strategy? Just asking.