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Monday, June 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion

Don’t let kids read this!

President Barack Obama plans to deliver a speech Tuesday to schoolchildren, and some parents are keeping their kids home to avoid the “indoctrination.” Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush gave speeches to schoolchildren, but parents weren’t warned to keep their kids home for fear that a short presidential speech would erase the hard work they’d put into raising them.

It’s all so silly, but it is an accurate indicator of our hyperpartisan times, where gun owners snatch up as many bullets as they can for fear they will be banned. It makes me want to start a rumor that Obama intends to ditch the First Amendment, so you better buy newspapers, particularly this one, right now.

Bush gave his speech in 1991 at a middle school and it was carried nationally by some media outlets. He emphasized the importance of education and delivered a strong anti-drug message. Golly, what if the kids took that to heart?

If any speech ought to have caused protests, it was the one Reagan delivered in 1986 to high schools students nationwide. He praised his administration’s work on national defense and cutting taxes. Warning: The following is a passage from that speech, so make sure the children are properly secured.

“When we came into office, the top personal tax rate that the federal government could put on your income was 70 percent. Now, you can understand, I think, that if you were getting up in those brackets – there were 14 different tax brackets, depending on the amount of money in each bracket you earned. And when you could look and say, ‘If I earn another dollar, I only get to keep 30 cents out of it,’ you can imagine the lack of incentive there. Well, we lowered it to 50 percent, and the economy really took off. Now we’re trying to lower it yet again so that families can keep more of their money and so the national economy will be lean and trim and fit for the future.”

That’s a political point, pure and simple. But, so what? Were the minds of the sons and daughters of liberals irretrievably snatched? Any bright teacher could’ve still turned that speech into a meaningful civics lesson.

Obama has agreed to an advance release of his speech about the value of education and hard work, so that parents indoctrinated by talk radio and the Internet can decide whether to keep their kids out of harm’s way. If nothing else, teachers ought to have their students look up “irony.”

The Fairness Doctrine. Editorial page editor Doug Floyd has a fair-minded solution to the school-speech controversy: Equal time could be allotted to a politician who wants to denigrate the value of education and trumpet truancy.

Deep denial. The California Nurses Association analyzed the state’s health insurance data and discovered that insurers turned down 21 percent of claims from 2002 through June 30, 2009. Insurers dispute the data, but there’s no question that this goes on in every state.

Is this rationing?

Well, in listening to opponents of cost-cutting for Medicare, it sure is. To them, refusing to pay for a service is rationed care. Never mind that no health plan pays for everything. California insurers are quick to point out that in some of the denials, the patients still got care, but doctors and hospitals didn’t get paid for it.

Rational people need to reassert the actual meaning of rationing, which is a fixed amount of a good or service. Nobody is saying, “You can only do 500 knee surgeries this year.” They are deciding what treatments and procedures will be paid for. You can still get uncovered services; it’s just that you have to pay for them or stiff your doctors.

Just like insurance.

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or at (509) 459-5026.
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