Amy Ridenour

And maybe some of these people will note that Graeme Frost's argument -- that his family needed help -- was irrelevant to the issue at hand anyway, because the present SCHIP debate on Capitol Hill is between those who want to expand SCHIP by $5 billion dollars (President Bush) and those who want to expand it by $35 billion (mostly Democrats and Senators Grassley and Hatch). All other things equal, the Frost family gets taxpayer-financed health insurance either way.

What's regrettable about the SCHIP debate is not that the Frost family received national attention after seeking it out, but that so many important parts of the debate are being glossed over. Nothing in the Reid-cum-Frost radio presentation, for instance, mentioned that the Reid-Pelosi $35 billion SCHIP expansion plan is underfunded.

The big-spending expansion proponents urge Congress to adopt a 61 cents per pack cigarette tax increase to pay for expansion. But as Michelle C. Bucci and William W. Beach of the Heritage Foundation have pointed out, there aren't enough smokers to pay the SCHIP expansion tab. Bucci and Beach say new tobacco tax funds may be sufficient for no more than two years' worth of the expansion, and certainly not much more. What will Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi do then? Start running public service announcements asking people to take up smoking, because the Frost family needs help?

Reid and Pelosi aren't telling the full truth about the price tag of their big baby, either. As the Wall Street Journal has reported, $35 billion is the price tag for extra spending for just five years. As the Journal put it, "come 2012 Congress will either have to pass new spending or kick kids off the rolls. The chances of the latter happening are approximately zero..."

Another inconvenient truth left out of the Reid-Frost presentation is the bitter little fact that whatever funding a tobacco tax increase provides will be highly regressive -- even as the SCHIP expansion makes that program less regressive. As David Hogberg in his paper "SCHIP Expansion: Socialized Medicine on the Installment Plan" for the National Center for Public Policy Research pointed out, if the expansion plan is adopted, "it is not inconceivable that a parent with one child with an income of $13,690 will be funding benefits for two children in a family of four with an income of $82,600."

12-year-old Graeme Frost probably doesn't know the SCHIP expansion he's fronting for would tax the poor to fund the middle class. What's Harry Reid's excuse?