A few weeks ago, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lured two young children to the public spotlight to help him pass a massive expansion of government health insurance. Gemma and Graeme Frost, 9 and 12 years old respectively, were severely injured in a car accident three years ago. Their parents obtained government health care through the non-means-tested Children's Health Insurance Program in Maryland. President Bush's veto doesn't change that -- and there's the rub.
Because liberal lawmakers cannot honestly defend their expansion plans as bona fide aid to the needy, they have surrounded themselves with the Frosts and other kiddie human shields to deflect any tough scrutiny. As they push for an override of the president's veto, scheduled for Oct. 18, the desperate Dems will shamelessly invoke the Absolute Moral Authority kiddie card to attack their critics for "attacking the children."
After 12-year-old Graeme Frost delivered the Democrat radio address, which was penned for him by Senate staffers, conservatives on the FreeRepublic.com forum and across the Internet asked the questions the mainstream media wouldn't ask about the family's financial situation. The couple claims a combined annual income of about $45,000. Neither the Democrats nor the Baltimore Sun indicates how they verified that assertion before circulating it.
What is verifiable: The Frosts own a home in Baltimore purchased for $55,000 16 years ago -- and now worth an estimated $300,000. That's a lot of equity. In addition, the children's father, Halsey Frost, owns commercial real estate and his own small business, but chose not to buy health insurance for himself and his wife, whom he hired as an employee. She now apparently works freelance at a medical publishing firm, which also reportedly doesn't offer insurance.
Gemma and Graeme both attend expensive private schools; the Frosts have two other school-age children. Reid's staff says Gemma and Graeme receive tuition breaks. But it's not clear when those scholarships were instituted and/or whether the other two receive tuition aid as well. Moreover, Frost's family comes from considerable means. The children's maternal grandfather was an engineering executive. Their paternal grandparents hail from affluent Bronxville, New York, where the grandfather is a prominent facilities management consultant and chairman of the municipal planning board.
In other words: The public trough is not Halsey Frost's last and only resort. The accident was horrible. The children deserve much sympathy and compassion. But this family made choices. Choices have consequences. Taxpayers of lesser means should not be forced to subsidize them.
The Frosts claim it would cost them more per month than their mortgage, reportedly $1,200 a month, to buy private insurance. But insurance bloggers quickly found available plans for a family of six with premiums as low as $452/month. "That's almost a third of the price quoted in the [Baltimore Sun] article," wrote Bob Vineyard at InsureBlog. "Doesn't anyone bother to check the facts?"
When it comes to Democrat health care poster children, the answer is "No, they don't." Graeme and Gemma Frost are not the first political symbols to be exploited by the socialized health care pushers of the Left:
In 1996, Hillary Clinton propped up young Jennifer Bush, a 7-year-old with mystery ailments whose mother coached her to lobby for universal health care. Jennifer was trotted out to present the Clintons a lucky silver dollar "to bring you good luck so everyone can have good insurance." Jennifer's mother was later convicted of aggravated child abuse and welfare fraud for misrepresenting $60,000 in assets on Medicaid forms.
In 2000, Al Gore propped up elderly widow Winifred Skinner to lambaste high drug prices. Gore repeated her claim that she had to pick up cans on the side of the road to pay for medicine. Dan Rather bemoaned: "She's no child, but she belongs on a poster about high drug costs." One problem: Winifred's own well-to-do son, businessman Earl King, debunked those claims.
In 2004, John Kerry propped up Mary Ann Knowles, a breast cancer patient whom he claimed "had to keep working day after day right through her chemotherapy, no matter how sick she felt, because she was terrified of losing her family's health insurance." The conservative Manchester Union Leader editorial page reported: "Knowles chose to work through most, but not all, of her chemotherapy because her husband was out of a job. She and husband John did not want to take the pay cut that would have come with disability leave, so Mary Ann kept working."
The Democrats sorely resent that they can no longer peddle their Big Nanny propaganda unchallenged. Harry Reid is already throwing tantrums and attacking the messengers who expose their health care poster child abuse. Here's a free prescription for our stunted politicians: Grow up.