We all know and identify with the legacy of Robin Hood, who in a time of despots and an abusive aristocracy, waylaid the wealthy in England’s Sherwood Forest, relieving them of their wealth and distributing it to the poor and desperately needy. Most of us identify with this story because for once the underdog gets a break and wins. Apparently, George Bush never heard of Robin Hood. Or maybe he did, and is determined at all costs to be the exact opposite of this likable character. Based on his behavior, the latter seems to be the case. The man is blatantly robbing the poor and destitute to advance the fortunes of the wealthy.
Believe it or not taxpaying citizens, George W. Bush is using our hard earned taxes to fund his travel to fund-raisers in support of Republican candidates. Yes, its true. In six months the White House has billed $210,000 to an agency that falls under Health and Human Services (HHS) for his trips to boost GOP candidates in election bids. And not just any agency. He is soaking the Office of Family Assistance, an agency having to do with assisting the impoverished in this nation. Incredible and unbelievable you say? Then turn to page A5 of The Washington Post for Sunday, October 20, 2002, and see the article written by staff writer Thomas B. Edsall. Here is how the fleecing works.
Lets say Republican candidate Joe Blow needs a boost to put him ahead of his Democratic challenger in an election campaign. George Bush makes a visit to that state in the name of welfare reform. Coincidentally, at the same visit, he makes an appearance with, and an endorsement for his GOP brother or sister-in-arms. Who knows, the event might even entail a $1,000 or $10,000 a plate dinner. Cheers all around. Then its back to Washington and his Pennsylvania Avenue address. Later someone on his team furiously punches numbers into a calculator of the expenses of the trip. This bill is then sent to HHS and billed to Office of Family Assistance, due to the fact that the President did give an obscure half hour speech about welfare reform while on that trip. What a windfall. The President made a trip. His GOP cohort got a boost without having to dip into his own campaign funds, his poll ratings has improved, and the Republican National Committee has benefited from a lucrative fund-raiser. There is happiness all around, and the world is great.
Not really. In truth America has been hosed. Yeah I mean just like that Mountain Dew TV commercial where the two boys have a disagreement over a Mountain Dew drink and the father breaks it up by drinking the beverage. When he is done he says, “Now let that be a lesson to you.” He pretends that his drinking their Dew was to teach them a lesson about not getting along. In truth he had ulterior motives and really wanted to appropriate their drink for himself. He actually conned them out of their drink. The boys are left baffled as one asks the other, “What just happened here?” His companion responds, “We got hosed Tommy. We got hosed.” In similar fashion Americans, and most especially the poor and needy, are being hosed right out of what is rightfully theirs. This is despicable. Just this month George Bush made an impromptu appearance in Maryland in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Ehrlich. There was Ehrlich gushing and pleased as punch that the President showed up on his behalf. Now in my work I have provided healthcare in the state, and especially in Baltimore, to the desperately needy subsisting on welfare due to unemployment, limited education, drug addiction, AIDS, or some other trying difficulty in life. I recall their faces. It would be a shame to find out that Bush helped himself to the funds allocated by Congress to these struggling souls, to finance an appearance in this state on behalf of his cohort whose war chest is no doubt loaded with money.
Recently I phoned the office of Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson. It has to do with a Health Education presentation I conduct in the schools. The kids are delighted to look in my microscope and see slides of blood cells, bacteria, and even anthrax. The problem is that the school funding is so limited that they are hard pressed to pay for the presentations. I figured I would contact HHS about funding since my program is health education, which takes place mostly at needy schools and After School Programs. I was told by the receptionist after she conferred at length with someone that HHS did not fund such enterprises. Wait a minute. I educate kids about their health and about disease, and HHS has nothing to do with an enterprise such as mine. Yet the President can bill that agency for trips that advance the political fortunes of his friends. In short he can take food from the mouths of these needy citizens, but I am denied help teaching them about their health? No wonder the cynicism and resentment of our citizens toward politicians and government agencies.
A math wizard I am not, but with the Office of Family Assistance having been billed $210,000 in just six moths by George Bush for trips, we can expect in a four year term they would have doled out $1.68 million dollars. That is sickening. That’s a lot of hungry adults and children. A lot of them without much needed medical care. Without counseling. Without health education programs. Without crucial immunizations. In a four year term Bill Clinton’s entire billing to HHS was $243,862 for similar travel ventures. George Bush has almost overtaken him in six months. It is often said that the progress of a nation is measured by how well it treats its poor. If this is true then Bush, and the America he and his friends preside over, get a failing grade. Were Robin Hood to meet George W. Bush he would promptly relieve him of these poor citizens desperately needed money.
BEN ROBERTS is a newsletter editor, freelance writer and published author. His previous articles include: Blood, Guts, and Game Show Hosts, The Shameless Hijacking of September 11, Tony Blair’s Dossier for Dummies, Letter to United Nations Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan, and Who’s Afraid of Terrorists With Jerry Falwell and the Religious Right Lurking About. His book Jackals of Samarra was published in January 2001. He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org