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October 18, 2007

House Sustains Bush's SCHIP Veto


House Democrats were unable Thursday to override President Bush's veto of their pre-election year effort to expand a popular government health insurance program to cover 10 million children.

The bill had bipartisan support but the 273-156 roll call was 13 votes short of the two-thirds that majority supporters needed to enact the bill into law over Bush's objections. The bill had passed the Senate with a veto-proof margin.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program now subsidizes health care insurance coverage for about 6 million children at a cost of about $5 billion a year. The vetoed bill would have added 4 million more children, most of them from low-income families, to the program at an added cost of $7 billion annually.

To pay for the increase, the bill would have raised the federal tax on cigarettes from 39 cents to $1.00 a pack.


Bush, anticipating that his veto would stand, has assigned three top advisers to try to negotiate a new deal with Congress. One of them, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said: "It's now time for us to get to the hard work of finding a solution and get SCHIP reauthorized. We also have a larger task, to provide every American with the means of having an insurance policy."

Republican opponents said the bill would encourage too many middle-income families to substitute government-subsidized insurance for their private insurance. The bill gives states financial incentives to cover families with incomes up to three times the federal poverty level $61,950 for a family of four.

"That's not low-income. That's a majority of households in America," said Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.

The bill specifically states that illegal immigrants would remain ineligible for the children's program, but Republicans seized on a section that would allow families to provide a Social Security number to indicate citizenship. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said it's too easy to get a false number, which would give an opening for thousands of illegal immigrants to enroll.

Here's the obvious: Democrats don't want Republicans to vote for this bill. They want a wedge issue. So they deliberately lard it up with unacceptable provisions -- coverage for illegals, coverage of the doin'-okay middle class -- purposefully.

The media knows this. They are not naive enough to believe that bills are drafted with only policy matters in mind and no political posturing whatsoever. Furthermore, they know that the parts of the bill objected to are, in fact, dubious. Not necessarily wrong, especially from their liberal perspective, but dubious. Probably unnecessary and more costly than needed.

Do we get a full and fair debate on this issue transmitted to us? Does the media bother to acknowledge the obvious political positioning here? Do they turn their self-proclaimed virtues of cynicism, experience, and all-around know-it-all wise-guy wisdom to note the obvious flaws in the bill, put in their deliberately to force a Republican split on it?

Of course not. It's just a "popular" program which insures poor children and which Republicans are assholes to oppose.

I know I sound like Johnny One Note on the media sometimes. Allah thinks sometimes I sound like a maniac, and while I don't think I sound like a maniac, I do find myself becoming maniacally repetitive.

But we cannot have a true democratic debate on any issue if the people charged with reporting the debate to us consistently distort the facts and misrepresent the real difference of opinions about those facts.

They call themselves the Fourth Branch of Government, implying a public trust and duty greater than individual partisanship. Perhaps they should start acting as if they believed that.

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posted by Ace at 03:24 PM

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