The outrages just keep coming: instance after instance where the Bush Administration has sold out the health and welfare of the American people in order to protect corporate profits. And what’s probably the saddest part of the whole sordid affair is how hard it is to work up even of modicum of surprise as each new atrocity is disclosed.
My first Framing Conservatism post 10 days ago was about the disclosures over how the Bush Administration had actually fought efforts — on behalf, in part, of China, of all patrons — to assure that no lead paint is used in the toys our kids play with.
Now there’s this:
In an attempt to raise the nation’s historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.
Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.
So here we go again: Given a choice between working to improve the health of America’s children or fighting to protect the profits of corporate America, conservatives always come down squarely on the side of profit: let the babies be damned. This, of course, is the true face of those often discussed right wing family values: conservatives care a lot about who’s having sex with whom; but when it comes down to protecting American families where it really counts, they always seem to have other priorities.
And this is a point Democrats desperately need to start making in a forceful and coherent fashion, again and again.
But there’s a lot more at issue here than just Bush: no, this is about what’s wrong with the whole “greed is good” dogma that constitutes the principal governing philosophy of the Republican Party: a governing philosophy that consistently puts corporate profits ahead of the health and safety of the American people. That is, after all, what government regulation is supposed to be all about — keeping our people, and especially our children, safe.
For over 25 years, the political right has been waging war against government (while at the same time sucking it dry through crony payoffs). And for far too long, no one, not even Democrats (can anyone say “The era of big government is over?”), has fought back. Now we’re paying the piper, with the excesses of largely unregulated capitalism crashing down all around us — everything from the crisis in unregulated lending, to lax mine safety measures, to lead paint in the toys our children play with.
The time to tell that story, bluntly and without apology, is now.
So what are you waiting for Democrats?
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