Democratic Underground

Dubya, Now It's Personal
April 4, 2001
by Liz Peel

Dubya, Now It's Personal

I have never liked George W. Bush. Before last November, I fervently hoped that he would lose the election and that the presidency would pass on to Al Gore. After doing a little research into his background, I honestly became scared of the man. The general condition of Texas while he was governor made a testament as to what a poor president he would make. His history with the electric chair, family connections to the Nazis and short-sighted, judgemental views about anyone who needs public assistance (combined with his personal irresponsibility) testified that he had the potential to ruin our great nation.

I firmly resolved to vote for Al Gore and to convince as many people as possible to do the same. Then the mess in November started. Al Gore won the popular vote. Al Gore had the most votes in Florida, but Katherine Harris, brother Jeb and five regrettable members of the Supreme Court declared Shrub the winner. I became very depressed at this point and loudly decried the theft of our presidency to everyone who would listen. I joined Internet think tanks and protested the mass media's blatant favoritism. I emailed legitimately elected officials and signed petitions by the dozen.

I was horrified when I heard that Bush's first act in office (which has thankfully been contested) was to slash funding for groups which provide essential health care for women and children overseas. I was mad then, but it was all just politics to me.

Meanwhile, my personal life was in turmoil. While I made too much money to get welfare, I certainly didn't make enough to pay the outrageous $1200/month costs of child care. There is a program in my county to help working families pay for daycare, but it is extremely overburdened and underfunded, with a long waiting list. My family helped me for a few months, babysitting three days a week so that I could hold down a part-time job. In late February, they were no longer able to help me and I lost my job. I then became qualified for welfare, but after I filed my application, I was told that I would have to wait six weeks to recieve any kind of assistance, even though I could have been back to work the next day if I had had childcare.

About that time, I became very depressed and withdrew from political activism. I still received a few email newsletters and occasionally signed petitions, but remained quiet for the most part. A few days ago, I received a bulletin which broke down the proposed tax cut. As I had already known, our richest citizens are set to receive the lion's share of the benefits while middle class families get enough to eat at McDonald's a couple extra times each month. Those who, like myself, are currently at the bottom of the income scale get an extra package of ramen noodles every two days or so.

Then, I visited an informative website about what programs are going to be cut to allow for the tax cut. The childcare assistance program in North Carolina will be cut by $200 million if the tax cut passes through Congress. When I heard this news, I was devastated. I have done a lot of research on the childcare assistance program and called every available government official to bring light to the situation and push for more funding. The programs which serve the county where I live are hard-pressed to help the families which are already enrolled. Statewide, almost 15,000 children are waiting for safe, affordable daycare.

A $200 million cut would be an unmitigated disaster. No families would be moved off of the waiting list in the forseeable future and many families would be dropped. Those parents would then lose their jobs and be forced to apply for welfare. The economy is sagging, both in NC and nationwide. A tax cut that gives to the rich at the expense of the poor isn't going to revitalize it. Cutting badly needed social programs so that people who are able to work, receive paychecks and spend them, have to sit at home moping about (like the media's inaccurately sterotyped welfare recipient) is only going to make things worse. Much worse.

I am a nursing student and a Certified Nurses' Aide. There is currently a nationwide shortage of both nurses and aides, as anyone in the health care profession and many who have sick or injured family members knows. Most CNAs and many nurses are single parents who rely upon childcare assistance programs to stay employed. If those programs are cut, these people will no longer be able to work and healthcare facilities will become chronically understaffed. Patients will suffer from injuries and illnesses, such as bedsores, infections, broken bones and dehydration, which are completely preventable in many cases. Similar problems will occur in every industry which employs parents at salaries too low to pay for childcare.

George W. Bush's tax cut is more than just another payback to the rich. It is more than an economically unwise plan. It has the potential to hurt hundreds of thousands of working American families. In addition to cutting the childcare program in NC, the cut will sap funding from domestic violence and child abuse prevention programs, limiting resources for victims of abuse and thus limiting the number of children who can grow up in violence-free households.

This tax cut strikes at me personally, limiting my ability to work, be a good role model for my children and contribute to society. It strikes at my children, making it much harder for them to have safe care while I am at work. It strikes at my friends who also need the childcare assistance program to keep working and provide for their families. It strikes at the residents in the nursing home where I worked, because short-staffing puts them at risk for numerous injuries.

This is more than politics now, and I will not sit idly by while it harms me and those I care about. My silence is over, Dubya. I'm fighting again, and this time it's personal.


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