Just when you thought America's self-appointed Pope had tamped down his moral preening, his inner tendentious liberal scold returned with a vengeance. Jimmy Kimmel is the Nation's Conscience when he wants to be, you see, but he'll breezily abdicate the role when "brave truth-telling" requires savaging targets outside his comfort zone. On Monday's ABC broadcast, the comedian-turned-activist brought his young son onstage, fresh off of successful heart surgery -- an understandably emotional moment for any parent. It's wonderful news that adorable little Billy Kimmel is thriving, full stop; we all pray that he lives a long and joyful life, free from any further health complications. He's blessed to have parents who care deeply for him, and the late night host's affection for his child is visceral and undeniable.
But that doesn't mean Jimmy Kimmel deserves an unassailable 'absolute moral authority' perch from which to parrot bogus left-wing talking points while agitating for a partisan agenda, which is precisely what he did. Again. Choking back tears and holding his son in his arms, Kimmel excoriated Republicans for "putting a tax cut that mostly goes to rich people ahead of the lives of children," a reference to the still-pending funding extension for CHIP, a popular and bipartisan healthcare program:
It's unclear whether Chuck Schumer's office effectively wrote that soliloquy for Kimmel, as they did during the Obamacare replacement fight (disgustingly, Kimmel also claimed pro-Second Amendment politicians and activists shared responsibility for the Las Vegas massacre), but Democrats couldn't have asked for a better in-kind contribution to their program of demagoguery against the GOP tax bill. "This year, [Congress] let the money for [CHIP] expire while they work on getting tax cuts for their billionaire and millionaire donors," Kimmel said, regurgitating a misleading Democratic line. On the tax front, the GOP bill disproportionately benefits the middle class (not the rich), and the House-passed version deliberately declined to reduce the top income tax rate paid by millionaires and billionaires. Republicans' approach is to allow the vast majority of middle income families -- including millions of parents who will benefit from expanded child tax credits -- keep more of the money they earn in the coming years. The average family would receive a tax cut of nearly $1,200 in year one under the proposal. That may not sound like a lot of money to a Hollywood millionaires like Jimmy Kimmel, but it's serious cash to many of the people for whom he purports to speak.
As for CHIP, House Republicans passed a five-year renewal of the program in early November, with most lower chamber Democrats voting against the measure because they "oppose[d] how the legislation is paid for," The Hill reported at the time. Liberals like Kimmel may not agree with the GOP's funding mechanisms (read Rep. Greg Walden's quote about Democratic hypocrisy on this front at that link), but that's a very different argument than accusing heartless Republicans of allowing the funds to expire. The GOP-controlled Senate Finance Committee also advanced its own version of a CHIP renewal earlier in the year, but the full Senate has yet to agree upon and approve a finalized plan. The effort to get that accomplished is being quarterbacked by Utah conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch, an original author of CHIP, who has simultaneously been instrumental in the tax reform process. He's walking and chewing legislative gum at the same time. Hatch was recently smeared by liberals who took a portion of his floor remarks out of context, claiming he suggested Congress won't pay for CHIP because lazy people need to take care of themselves instead of relying the government for everything. In fact, Hatch called CHIP a must-pass priority and reaffirmed his commitment to getting it done.
There is such a bipartisan consensus around CHIP (Kimmel actually references this reality in his commentary) that it's virtually inconceivable that funding will be allowed to run out. The renewal deadline technically passed earlier this fall, but every state has enough CHIP funds to carry on without disruption through at least the end of January. And Congress literally just passed a bill last week, signed by President Trump, that ensured the program would remain funded while a long-term solution is negotiated and implemented. Here's the Washington Post:
While the [government funding] stopgap does not change current government funding levels, it does include a provision to maintain the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which serves nearly 9 million children and has been in limbo since its congressional authorization expired on Sept. 30. The Department of Health and Human Services will now be able to shift funds internally to help states whose CHIP programs are running out of money. Congressional leaders are expected to continue negotiating a long-term reauthorization of the program in the coming weeks.
The Trump administration will use this flexibility to keep CHIP running smoothly until Congress passes a multi-year bill, which the House has already done. It's fine for Jimmy Kimmel to urge Congress to complete that process as soon as possible. It's another matter to insinuate that Republicans don't really care about doing so because they're too busy stuffing their cronies' pockets with big tax cuts. That's a grossly unfair characterization, and it's even harder to swallow in the context of yet another tearful, televised lecture from a comedian, this time co-starring a post-surgery toddler. Not to be outdone by Kimmel, some of the media outlets gushing over his latest partisan foray have distorted the facts far more egregiously than he did. For instance, here's a Twitter pal calling out the Daily Beast's factually-inaccurate coverage:
Even the longtime 'Juggie' wrangler didn't try to claim that the GOP tax bill "threatens" to eliminate CHIP, which is an outright lie. No, that absurd fake news was relayed to concerned citizens by a supposed journalist. Good times. By the way, Kimmel's monologue also urged people to sign up for Obamacare, which he triumphantly declared "very much alive." But enrollment is once again weak -- stymied, as usual, by millions of uninsured Americans choosing not to buy "Affordable" Care Act coverage they do not want and/or cannot afford. We already know that Jimmy Kimmel doesn't care to educate himself about the millions of people who've been actively harmed by his preferred party's disastrous law, which was sold with lies (this was before Kimmel decided he cared about politicians' truthfulness on healthcare issues, of course). Nevertheless, his elective ignorance doesn't change the fact that individual market premiums and out-of-pocket costs have exploded under Obamacare, as access to care dramatically receded across large swaths of the country. Might we get a tear-stained "comedy" monologue of behalf of the people pummeled by those policy failures? Don't hold your breath. Chuck Schumer would not approve that message.