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That is how Democrats are framing the debate over the proposed $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that Bush is threatening to veto. I saw Nancy Pelosi claim to be praying to her higher power (Karl Marx ?) for the president to discover his compassionate conservative heart and approve the SCHIP expansion. The Democrats are trotting out 12-year olds to ask the president why he doesn't want kids to get needed medical treatment, why he wants them to, sniff, die instead. Yesterday on the Chris Wallace program, that Schumer guy who is on TV every other day shook his head in sadness at the depth of Republican cruelty, as he listened to coldhearted GOP Grinch Trent Lott objecting to the taxpayers paying for the 700,000 adults who are covered under SCHIP, the taxpayers paying for the children of families making over $60K per year, the taxpayers picking up the health insurance tab for middle class families who can afford to pay for it themselves, and other such Republican trivialities. Chuck Schumer knows this is no time for a rational policy discussion. THIS IS ABOUT THE CHILDREN, man, and that should be the end of all discussion.
SCHIP was started in 1997 in response to the growing number of children who were going without health insurance. It was targeted at children in families who earned too much to be covered under Medicaid, but too little to afford the rapidly escalating cost of private insurance. SCHIP currently covers an estimated 6.9 million children, and the current bill under consideration wants to cover an additional 4 million kids by lessening the requirements for SCHIP. Instead of limiting coverage to families who make 200% of poverty level wages, now families earning up to 300% would be eligible. That is $62,000+ for a family of four, with variations from state to state, which is why some families earning into the $80,000's would become eligible. The expansion will supposedly be paid for by increasing taxes on the government's favorite whipping boy, the evil tobacco plant. As Schumer pointed out, this might also have the side benefit of getting people to quit smoking due to the prohibitive price of a pack of cigarettes (and thus reducing SCHIP funding, Chuck). But has anyone bothered to stop and think who these smokers are ? Statistics show that lower income people smoke at much higher rates than higher income people, so maybe someone should tell the Democrats that they are endorsing raising taxes on the backs of the poor to expand the SCHIP program to provide insurance to middle class families who can afford to pay for it themselves. Someone tell me how THAT is right. It has also been estimated that 22 million new smokers would be needed over the next 8 years to pay for the SCHIP expansion, according to a Heritage Foundation article, which would put our government directly at odds with it's own stop smoking campaign.
In addition, a 2007 analysis by the Congessional Budget Office showed that "for every 100 children who gain coverage as a result of SCHIP, there is a corresponding reduction in private coverage of between 25 and 50 children." The CBO claims this is due to the superior coverage SCHIP provides compared to private insurers. Um, okay. It couldn't have anything to do with getting something for 'FREE' as opposed to having to pay for it, could it ? Naw, who would go for a deal like that, other than everybody ? I guess it would also be very mean of me to ask why I should pay for my next door neighbor's decision to have children ? Oh sorry, that just slipped out. Not very PC. I forgot, the era of personal responsibility is over (and here Bill Clinton thought it was the era of big government that was over. Ha ! It's only just beginning).
The SCHIP expansion as currently written should be vetoed by the president and sent back to congress for revision and compromise. As far as government programs go, SCHIP isn't the worst one. Let's not ruin it and turn it into a backdoor to socialized medicine. That is the Democrat's game here. Yes, Republicans will have to hear all this nonsense about how they don't care about our children, because the Democrats and their pet media will play those violins for all they are worth, but vetoing the SCHIP expansion is the right thing to do. It's about time Bush is finally threatening to veto something anyway. Far past time, actually.