Heading For An SCHIP Showdown
“Covering these children is worth every cent.”
--Orrin Hatch, yesterday
"(Supporters) have seized the reauthorization of SCHIP as a license to raise taxes, increase spending and take a giant leap forward into the land of government-run health care."
--Mitch McConnell, yesterday slamming Orrin Hatch
The Senate rejected a veto threat from President Bush and passed an expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program by a 68-31 vote, with 18 Republicans joining all Democrats and two independents to provide a margin which could override a Bush veto. The Senate measure must now be reconciled with a more costly House measure before it is sent to the White House. The $35 billion expansion of the program over the next five years will be financed with an increase in the federal tobacco tax. The SCHIP reauthorization and expansion was one of the most popular items in the Democrats' "100 Hours" agenda last fall.
The White House is opposed to the expansion because states have expanded the program over time to cover families, and because of hollow complaints that any expansion smacks of government run health care. Both complaints are garbage, because the Bush Administration granted the waivers to allow states to expand the program and is just now opposed to putting more money into its own expansion. Secondly, a significant portion of the health care under this program is provided not by government through fee-for-service but through HMOs like it is here in California with the very successful Health Families program.
Yet the Bush Administration now raises an objection to government run health care, when in fact they themselves expanded government run health care with these SCHIP waivers, and the Medicare Part D expansion in 2003. Of course the big difference now is that 1) seniors vote and low income kids do not; and 2) the GOP needs to scare its base with the bogeyman of socialized medicine, even though most of the seniors in their base get their health care from the exact same systems that SCHIP does.
After Bush's veto, the effort will probably fail because the House will not be able to muster the necessary two-thirds vote to override his veto like the Senate did. So Democrats and specifically the DCCC will have a lethal club to use against the vulnerable GOP House members next year as to why they keep rubber-stamping billions for an unending war in Iraq but suddenly have a cow over providing health care to children. This vote by the House GOP alone should kill off at least a dozen GOP incumbents next year, perhaps several dozen.
I hope their support of Bush at the expense of their seats is worth it to them.