"With the stroke of a pen, President Bush has robbed nearly 4 million uninsured children of the chance for a healthy start in life and the health coverage they need but can't afford," Sen. Hillary Clinton, R-N.Y., announced in a statement issued by her campaign. That statement also is off. Clinton should know that a third of the children who would sign up with SCHIP if Congress overrides the Bush veto already have coverage through their parents' employers.
Democrats also have bashed Bush for a) exercising fiscal restraint on SCHIP after bankrolling the Iraq war and b) for using his veto power on SCHIP after underutilizing it in the first term.
Essentially, they are arguing that a) since the country has gone to war, Bush should abandon all fiscal restraint on domestic spending and b) that he should continue to stick to hyper-spending, which voters rejected in 2006 -- just to be consistent.
Nuts on both counts.
Although I do think Kenney had a point when she told me, "The funding increase that's being requested to support this program is small, relative to the size of the federal budget and certainly relative to the size of other programs."
Kenney doesn't think SCHIP should be "held hostage to the quagmire."
Already, the Bush administration is making noises about a compromise. On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt told The Washington Post that President Clinton vetoed welfare reform legislation twice before cutting a deal with Republicans in 1996 and signing a bill.
The next question is: Do Democrats want a new bill, or do they want a Bush veto to help them win in 2008?
This much we know: If Washington does pass a bill, both parties will cut a deal that only pretends to fund the expansion. And while Bush says he wants to put "poor kids first," he'll be in a corner that may force him to accommodate the Democratic leadership's plan to expand SCHIP to the middle class.
I, too, believe in providing health care for needy children, but in this country, we've forgotten how to draw a line.
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