Former President George H.W. Bush visited Kentucky a number of times, and as a journalist I was privileged to meet with him as part of a small group of broadcast reporters interviewing him. He impressed me with his sincerity, pleasantness and civility---in person and as hallmarks of his administration. Reagan talked of “compassionate conservatism” but didn’t really delivery it; Bush did.
His “Thousand points of light” program was just one example. Trump has disparaged it, but it was truly nothing more than the old idea of volunteerism for America, helping your neighbor as a tradition on our nation. The Bush family, as the Kennedys and others, exemplified this in the extreme. They had profited by being Americans and felt an obligation to give something back. You might disagree with their policies but not their desire to serve. (Several Kentucky communities were honored for their work by this program.)
Bush probably was a one term president because he broke a promise not to raise taxes. Yet, at that time, it was probably the right thing to do. But the Old Guard in the GOP never forgave him, and with a fractured party, Clinton won.
Today’s GOP is not the party of Pres. Bush; I wish it were. It was, as he put it, a “kinder, gentler” type of administration, which we lack today, both nationally and in Kentucky.
Gov. Bevin keeps trying to change the Medicaid rules so people must do some work (or even Bush-type volunteering) to keep their benefits. Lawsuits stopping his first attempt here kept Kentucky from being the first in the nation with such a project. But appeals to DC have led them to tweak the program, in an effort to avoid the lawsuit they lost, and now Bevin is trying again. But the same objections by opponents still apply: in many parts of Kentucky, especially Eastern Kentucky, there just aren’t the jobs—or even the opportunities to pursue volunteer projects—to meet the requirements so people will lose their benefits.
One has to believe this is what the governor really wants. (Hardly either compassionate conservatism or a kinder, gentler approach.) And now we have some proof. When the first lawsuit delayed our program; new lawsuits have been promised and other states went ahead. One in Alabama, was the subject of a recent report on the PBS Newshour. Surprise! In those areas of that state, where, as in our state, jobs are scarce, people could not qualify under the new work-volunteer rules and they lost their benefits. Many, as the report showed, have sunk into greater poverty, and much poorer health—much poorer.
Can we not learn from this?
Can Gov. Bevin not learn, and in the spirit of our former president, end this charade and return his party to Mr. Bush’s approach? It would serve many Kentuckians much better than these proposed new work rules; and, by the way, it’s much better politics.
I'm just sayin'...