They call it an effort to improve the nation’s “health infrastructure.” I call it pork. Didn’t someone mention something about lipstick on a pig awhile back?
WASHINGTON – Sweeping healthcare legislation working its way through Congress is more than an effort to provide insurance to millions of Americans without coverage. Tucked within is a provision that could provide billions of dollars for walking paths, streetlights, jungle gyms, and even farmers’ markets.
The add-ons – characterized as part of a broad effort to improve the nation’s health “infrastructure’’ – appear in House and Senate versions of the bill.
Critics argue the provision is a thinly disguised effort to insert pork-barrel spending into a bill that has been widely portrayed to the public as dealing with expanding health coverage and cutting medical costs. A leading critic, Senator Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, ridicules the local projects, asking: “How can Democrats justify the wasteful spending in this bill?’’
But advocates, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, defend the proposed spending as a necessary way to promote healthier lives and, in the long run, cut medical costs. “These are not public works grants; they are community transformation grants,’’ said Anthony Coley, a spokesman for Kennedy, chairman of the Senate health committee whose healthcare bill includes the projects.
Pretty soon Queen Nancy will be shrieking from the House floor that this bill is all about JOBS JOBS JOBS JOBS.