Raising the Debt Ceiling for the Children

Considering the amount of attention that our dear Congress devotes to children, I am quite surprised by the average academic performance delivered by our sweet angels when compared to their peers in other countries. Lest you think Congress is too focused on earmarks for their donors constituents, I must point out that even the rancorous debt ceiling debate during the past few weeks was all about the children. In face of the spending cuts called for in the debt ceiling bill, Senator Durbin urged his colleagues to consider its impact on the children:

Durbin, speaking from the Senate floor, said fewer poor children will be enrolled in early childhood education programs, working families and children will face more college debt and medical research dollars stand to be cut.

So, how else does Congress look out for the future of America? Let’s take a look.

  1. Children’s Budget Act. This bill seeks to manage our nation’s allowance for children by reporting on the amount of spending dedicated to children and children’s programs by agency, department and initiative. The next logical step would be to impose a separate debt ceiling for the children just so that these profligate tykes don’t spend this nation to oblivion. And, if the Republicans can loosen child labor laws a tad bit, we could balance our budget on the backs of the children instead of trying to repeal the Bush-era tax cuts.
  2. National Child Awareness Month. Congress specializes in public awareness campaigns with entire months dedicated to hidden perils ranging from Teen Dating Violence to STDs. I do wonder whether the Founding Fathers spent many a session debating the merits of Consumption Awareness Month. As if temper tantrums are not enough to call attention to themselves, the children now have the backing of Congress to seek even more attention.
  3. Father’s Day. If you thought that Father’s Day is a day that the family caters to the whims of dear old dad, you are sadly mistaken. Instead, on that day, the House of Representatives directs “fathers across the United States to use Father’s Day to reconnect and rededicate themselves to their children’s lives, to spend Father’s Day with their children, and to express their love and support for their children.” Nothing more tender than the government-mandated bond between a father and his child. “Son, on behalf of the House of Representatives, I offer you this hug to express my love and support.”
  4. Children’s Environmental Protection Act of 1996. How can anyone oppose reporting on environmental pollutants for the environment and the children? In terms of social causes, this bill is a buy-one-get-one-free deal.
  5. Effective Counterterrorism Act of 1996. Section 105 of the bill sought to prohibit “Acts of Terrorism Against Children.” Because of Congressional inaction, this section of the bill never made it into law. I am not sure how our children sleep at night knowing that Congress is not protecting them against terrorism.
  6. Children’s Media Protection Act of 1995. If parents cannot step in to prevent their children from viewing inappropriate programming on television then Congress will. The bill raises an interesting issue. If the problem is that children in the United States are being “exposed to 27 hours of television each week” and “as much as 11 hours of television each day,” should the solution be more educational and information programming for children? I think that solution would only encourage children to watch even more television, not less.
  7. Prescribe A Book Act. Sheer legislative genius to ask healthcare providers to encourage parents to read aloud to their young children. Will your health insurance plan cover this, what is the treatment code for this type of consultation, and will librarians now be dispensing health care advice too?
  8. Parental Choice in Television Act of 1995. If the kids ask why they cannot watch television, tell them that Congress put you in charge.
  9. Decade of the Child. Not a Day. Not a Month. Not even a year. But, an entire decade focused on investing in our children so that they can compete in a global marketplace. But, with laws that are long on platitudes, but short on solutions, you end up with middling academic performance. At least, we’re ahead of Dubai, Uruguay and Bulgaria.