The rhetoric is flying fast and furiously over the president’s promised and certainly pending veto of the newly expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The SCHIP has actually been in existence since the majority Republican congress passed it in 1997 and for 10 years it has been providing health insurance for the children of low-income families who are making more than they are allowed to, to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to purchase health insurance — that is, at least, how the program is explained by the media. Now, however, since the congress is controlled by a Democratic majority, and since they operate on the assumption that anything that President Bush thinks is good is, in reality, rotten to the core, they decided to make the SCHIP bigger so it covers more people (and costs more).
Here are the basic opposing points of view as I understand them:
Those Senators and Congressmen who voted against the new SCHIP are saying they did so because this new program is a giant step in the direction of government administered Universal Health Care — much like then First Lady Hillary Clinton proposed some years ago. They say that this new incarnation of SCHIP would allow adults to receive SCHIP benefits (taking benefits away from children), allow illegal immigrants to receive SCHIP benefits (taking benefits away from American children) and cost the taxpayers tens of billions of additional dollars.
Those Senators and Congressmen who voted for the new SCHIP are apparently saying that the only reason the president is threatening a veto is simply because he wants more children to be uninsured and have to use emergency rooms for treatment. That basically is their only argument — aside from some accusations that he is opposing this because he doesn’t want insurance companies to loose money (well at least they can’t blame Halliburton this time).
It comes down to: who do you believe?
Looking at it logically, is it even a remote possibility that any Senator, Congressman or President would openly oppose children’s health care? I say no, of course not — that would be political suicide; not unless, that is, that the proposed children’s health care program was very badly flawed and the existing one was working well. That one argument alone causes me to believe those who opposed the new program over those who supported it.
Also looking at it logically from the Democrats point-of-view, what is the best way to assure that the President and his party look really really bad going into the 2008 election? How about by using the children? When children are involved many people stop thinking rationally and start acting from the gut; so by giving the president a piece of legislation that, on its surface, is good for the children but is, in reality, something they know he can never support; a piece of legislation that was tailored specifically to get vetoed, they can do some really bad damage to his image.
The sad thing is that this veto, no matter how well deserved it is, will most likely be spun so wildly by the media and by the presidential candidates who support the new SCHIP that it will all but kill the presidential hopes of anyone who does not support it. The major media outlets are, as they always are, supportive of anything that makes President Bush look bad, and what makes him look bad makes the Republican Party look bad.
Associated Press: GOP Solidarity Softens in Congress
From the Blogs
The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog: State Children Health Insurance Program Problems Don’t Bode Well for Health Care Reform
Democratic Talk Radio Blog: Following Bush Over a Cliff