The Hightower Report

by Jim Hightower


Two years ago, Pentagon chief Donnie Rumsfeld said, "I think we ought to put together a team to see that the [military] services take care of their troops after they're wounded and when they return home and are discharged."

Golly … what a concept. You get injured in war, you get help back home. Yes, I'm for that. Aren't you? Why this took so long to start, I don't know.

Bear in mind that Rummy was talking about a special effort for severely wounded troops – those with amputations, brain trauma, and such. So, the brass set up MSIC, the Military Severely Injured Center. Headquartered just outside Washington, MSIC's goal was both clear and proper: "Seamless support as long as it may take to ensure that injured service members and families achieve the highest level of functioning and quality of life."

The center placed "counselor advocates" in 19 hospitals across the country to work with the wounded vets on everything from financial needs to family problems, offering 24/7 support. Way to go – that's what I call really supporting our troops!

But wait … what the blankety-blank is this? The Pentagon has just shut down MSIC! In January, dozens of these skilled special advocates were abruptly shown the door. Even in the few hospitals where the advocates were not laid off, they're being reassigned and are not allowed to work with the severely wounded.

The Pentagon says that MSIC was a duplication of efforts, thus expendable. But, as the head of a troop support group says: "I'm just livid about this. [MSIC] did a fabulous job for these families … who are hanging by a thread. … No other organization helped service members and their families like they did."

Ironically, this despicable cutback came only days before George W.'s State of the Union speech, when he called on Americans to support our troops. We do, George! Why don't you?


Look out, everyone – George W. has had another idea!

The guy who told us occupying Iraq would be a really smart thing to do, now has focused both of his brain cells on health care in America. And, as we've seen, when George gets an idea in his head, it's a doozy!

Here's his plan: 1) The 47 million Americans who have no health coverage will be offered tax deductions to buy individual health policies from insurance corporations; 2) American workers who do have good health policies will be taxed to help cover the tax deductions for the poor.

Gosh, so much ignorance in one little head! Bush, of course, doesn't know any poor people, so maybe he doesn't understand that they don't have enough income to be able to use a tax deduction. Then there's the fact that poor folks tend to have a number of health problems – and insurance corporations don't want to sell policies to people who might actually need to make insurance claims. Thus, George's scheme will do practically nothing to reduce the number of Americans who aren't covered.

It will, however, hurt middle-class families by slapping a health tax on them. Wasn't this the guy who pledged never to increase taxes? So why hit ordinary workers with a levy that could cost them a few thousand dollars each? Because, he sneered, these people have chosen "overly expensive, gold-plated plans."

Gold plated? George, having decent health coverage is not a royal luxury, not something that a president should mock, and certainly not anything for you to be taxing. Can't your little brain cells come up with a way to lift up the poor without knocking down the middle class?

The good news is that George's idea is going nowhere – it's opposed by business, labor, health advocates, Democrats in Congress, and the general public. The bad news is that it reveals just how out of touch and condescending our president is.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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Donald Rumsfeld, Military Severely Injured Center, Pentagon, Iraq War, George W. Bush, health coverage

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