You know an editorial is going to be good when it starts out with a metaphor like this:
If our outrage toward President Bush's budget proposal were a cupcake, this would be the thick layer of fury icing:
And the good folks at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer don't disappoint. That thick layer of fury icing is President Bush's determination to eliminate public funds to support the Indian Health Service's Urban Indian Health Program, and it's an outrage.
There are tens of thousands of American Indians in cities across the nation who benefit from this program. Many of them are poverty-stricken, and urban Indians often are afflicted with serious family problems that spring from their decisions to go to the cities in order to try and make better lives for themselves. It's something of a Catch-22: staying on the Rez means they can maintain vital family ties, but it also generally means they're dependent on welfare for survival. Urban Indians have made the very difficult choice to leave family and friends and to seek some level of financial independence. If we remove the UIHP's funding, who knows how many Indians will become frustrated, lose hope, and return to the Rez (and to a cycle of welfare checks and extended poverty)?
Here's some more of what the ed board has to say on the matter:
Ralph Forquera, executive director of the Seattle Urban Indian Health Board, said the cut (which he anticipated) honors neither the government's commitment to addressing health disparities affecting urban Indians nor tribal sovereignty. How does Bush feel about sovereignty issues? Here it goes: "Tribal sovereignty means that, it's sovereign. You're a -- you're a -- you have been given sovereignty and you're viewed as a sovereignnininity."
That explains a lot, I suppose. It also makes me much more prone to buy the ed board's conclusion:
This is the second year that Bush has tried to eliminate funds for UIHP. Lawmakers teamed up with tribal leaders and community activists last year and restored the money.
Steps already have been taken to do the same thing again. It's too bad undoing the handiwork of this administration is a full-time job.