National economies present some of the most complex problems in the world. At this very moment, some of the globe's most eminent minds are debating how to pull mankind out of its recent economic torpor. And yet somehow, those Nobel Prize-winning economists can't see what's perfectly obvious to Florida Sen. George LeMieux: It's about the children. Here are his remarks this week in Washington, D.C.:
Oops! Wrong video. Got it here somewhere... Aha!
LeMieux's speech is a bit subtle. Maybe he should have underscored his point with an a cappella version of that marvelous Whitney Houston ballad. "I believe the children are our future..."
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Seriously, there's nothing wrong with making the ol' "for the children" argument, as long as it's absolutely clear that the policy being discussed will in fact benefit children. A bill that makes sure there's testing for lead-based paint on children's toys, for instance.
It is not absolutely clear that holding federal spending to LeMieux's strict standards will help the "children and grandchildren of the future." And there's a very good chance it will harm the children and grandchildren of the present, because the program cuts LeMieux demands will be felt by families where the breadwinners have lost their jobs, by school districts and child welfare agencies.
And if you're going to play the children card, you better make sure you aren't selling out those same children on the next policy. For example, LeMieux's friends at the Florida Republican Party are rather bullish about drilling for oil off the Florida Coast. They argue that it might mean cheaper fuel for the present, along with less dependence on foreign oil -- both questionable claims. What is certain is that this policy will thrust the problem of fossil fuel dependency even more heavily upon those same "children and grandchildren" that LeMieux invokes in his impassioned speech on federal spending.
LeMieux, who was being paid handsomely by pro-drilling groups like Florida Energy Associates before his appointment to the Senate, has declined to join Sen. Bill Nelson in opposing a bill that would include expanded drilling. Is it safe to drill? Or are we risking the health of the beaches that are Florida's chief tourist draw? Maybe we'll just let the children and grandchildren worry about that.