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What Senator Sasse’s New Book Gets Wrong About Our Kids

I have to start by admitting that I haven’t read Senator Sasse’s new book, “The Vanishing American Adult”.  I’ve only read excerpts and reviews.  But from what I understand, his book suggests that what our young people need is better parenting.  While I don’t disagree that parents and families have to be part of the solution, we need our government to take responsibility for its role as well.

Senator Sasse’s book suggests that learning to face challenges will build character – and while this may be true for some more privileged kids in our community, it misses the fact that so many kids are already suffering from challenges beyond the Senator’s imagination.  In Nebraska in 2015, over 92,000 kids experienced food insecurity, almost 80,000 kids were living below the poverty line, over 3,500 of our kids experienced substantiated abuse or neglect and over 2,000 of our kids were homeless (see even more data here).  These kids need a lot of things.  More challenges isn’t one of them.

The good news is that there are existing government programs that do help these kids. SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) lifted over 8,000 Nebraska families above the poverty line.  Medicaid provided over 162,000 Nebraska children who would otherwise be uninsured with access to health care.  But these are the very programs that Senator Sasse and others are looking to cut.  Congress is poised to limit access to health care for almost a third of our state’s kids with hardly a thought about what it does to their opportunity to become successful adults.

Last week, the House of Representatives voted to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would cut almost a trillion dollars from state Medicaid programs.  The bill allows these programs to be fundamentally altered from a program that provides health care to all lower income kids who qualify to one that puts caps on services or allows states to restructure the program in a multitude of untold ways.

A day on the farm isn’t going to turn a child without health care into a successful adult, but Medicaid has decades of research that proves that it helps improve outcomes for lower income kids.  Children who are eligible for Medicaid do better in school and miss fewer school days.  They‘re also likelier to finish high school, attend college, and graduate.  Kids who are eligible for Medicaid earn more as adults and experience fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

We hope Senator Sasse and other Senators will consider the significant role that Medicaid plays in putting kids on a path to becoming successful adults as they consider fundamental changes to the Medicaid program that has been helping Nebraska kids on their path to adulthood for decades.

Thank you to taking the time to share!


  1. REPLY
    Susan Thomas says

    What Republicans fail over and over to recognize is the fact that some children get a “Head Start” (pardon the pun) while others have to start miles behind the starting line. I look forward to reading the book though. And I thank the senator for being one of the few who has displayed any courage at all in the face of the “party boys.”

  2. REPLY
    Katherine E Schroeder says

    While your point about Medicaid is well taken, I just have to note the fact that you start by admitting you haven’t even read Sen. Sasse’s book. There’s no other word for that than just plain, ordinary laziness. I’m sorry. But writing an article/opinion piece about a book you can’t be bothered to read really does set a terrible example for children.

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