Playing a high stakes game of chicken

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When I was a young boy, one of the favorite activities of my group of friends was to get on our bikes (I was the proud owner of a Schwinn Tornado - a serious muscle bike if there ever was one) and play "chicken," the game of dare where you would race at each other full speed knowing that you were going to swerve at the last minute to avoid a collision. We would play for hours, taking turns hurtling toward each other, passing so close you could see the excited fear in each others eyes as you whizzed by, and then laughing and retelling somewhat grandiose stories of our heroism on full display, full of bravado and the excitement of the "near miss."

So when I read of the latest round of debate taking place in the House, pitting increased defense spending without raising taxes against cutting more from domestic programs, including aid to the poor, with tens of billions coming from food stamps, Medicaid and child tax credit refunds, I was reminded of the game of chicken I used to play so many years ago. Only one problem - I expect my congressional representatives to act like responsible adults and not kids playing a game of chicken.

Consider this from the NY Times article yesterday discussing this latest legislative proposal -

It's election season and the political posturing is in full force. This latest round of chicken appears to be more about shifting cuts from military to domestic programs and not deficit reduction.

Network faithful take note: It is important for all of us to pay attention to the "either - or" messaging that is taking place and becoming more deeply rooted in the national conversation. [Update - the Reconciliation Bill passed on May 10th on a 218 - 199 vote] Be you Republican, Democrat, Independent or anything else - you come to the Network because you care about the welfare of children with emotional challenges and their families. As you engage in conversation with colleagues, family members and just plain folk you meet at your local coffee shop, do your part and break down the debate about health care reform into relevant, simple truths. Here are two to let simmer with your second cup of Joe this morning:

Network faithful take note - These two simple fact-based truths make the current posturing in the House mystifying to say the least. We are committed to keep bringing these fact-based truths (the best kind of truth) to you so you, in turn, can use them in your education efforts with whomever you can get an audience.

Ah yes, playing chicken was fun as a child, when the greatest consequence was a bruised knee from a fall or a bruised ego from being the first to flinch. The consequences are much greater in the current debate about the deficit and health care reform.

Enjoy the zen...

Scott Bryant-Comstock


  1. Frank Rider's avatar
    Frank Rider
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    Scott, thanks to you and CMHN for the great and very timely analysis. On this, National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, one day after our North Carolina primary elections, these two "fact-based truths" certainly do take all the fun out of the Congressional game of chicken! I am certainly moved to write to my Congressman and two Senators this evening to tell that that I am among the many, many of us who are paying attention, and that we (voters) can see no logic, and instead only naked gamesmanship and cynicism, to proposals to further gut these safety net programs for people who are near and dear to us! ~~ Frank ~~
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