Bush decides children are expendable, also delicious
Here’s one promise the president kept: on Wednesday President Bush vetoed the funding bill for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), just as he said he would. As a direct result of his actions, almost seven million children will lose insurance coverage in one month, and millions more won’t receive coverage to begin with.
I’ve written about this issue twice before, and here I am, covering it again. God, Alice, could you find something new to write about? When our President values the health of our children over war spending, I’ll cover it. Then I’ll write a gleeful addendum about the donkeys that subsequently flew out of his butt. (I’m mature!)
Truly, though, this decision is staggering. In vetoing this bill, President Bush disregarded its overwhelming support by both parties, not to mention the American public.
So why the veto? According to Bush, we should not bother insuring small children,because “their humours are oft times balanced and need not the poultices and purging methods given by doctors of physic; and besides, their meat is the tenderest, and maketh the most nourishing of stewes.”
Seriously! The Bush administration reportedly is afeared that the expansion of SCHIP moves it toward that most unspeakable of taboos: the dread Government Run Insurance Program (AAIIIIIIIEEEE!). His speech given in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on the day of the veto distorts the original intent of the bill as well as its expansion. For one, he characterized the bill as redundant, implying that it’s for poor children when “poor children in America are covered by what’s called Medicaid.” In fact, SCHIP was specifically created to cover the ever-increasing population of families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to payfor regular (exorbitant) rates of health insurance. He added: “This program expands coverage, federal coverage up to families earning $83,000 a year. That doesn’t sound poor to me.”
Actually, according to NPR, in this excellent primer on SCHIP, he’s referring to New York (where all the troublemakers live), where officials pushed to include children in families with incomes up to four times the poverty level onto the program. (In New York, not coincidentally, insurance rates are among the highest in the nation.) “The Department of Health and Human Services rejected New York’s plan last month, and under the bill, that denial would stand.”
And that’s not the only distortion that George Bush shared with the crowd in Lancaster. He also told them, “I believe in private medicine, not the federal government running the health care system.” Implying, of course, that SCHIP equals a government-run insurance program. In fact, SCHIP has nothing to do with the federal government running the healthcare system; SCHIP provides families with affordable healthcare options that are offered (with the help of SCHIP funding) by private companies. As Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican who helped write the bill, said, “Screaming ‘socialized medicine’ is like shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. It is intended to cause hysteria that diverts people from reading the bill, looking at the facts.”
In response to the president’s veto, the Democrats unleashed heart-tugging hell: Graeme Frost, a sweet-voiced twelve-year-old who was gravely injured in a severe car accident, delivered the radio address. Thanks to SCHIP, Graeme and his sister received the care they needed to recover. “I don’t know why President Bush wants to stop kids who really need help from getting CHIP,” said Graeme. “All I know is I have some really good doctors. They took great care of me when I was sick, and I’m glad I could see them because of the Children’s Health Program.” I feel a little conflicted about the decision to have a child provide the response to the veto. On the one (obvious) hand, it’s transparently manipulative (I confess that just Graeme’s voice, which had been affected by the accident—his vocal cords were injured—got me a little choked up); on the other (also obvious) hand, this veto directly and profoundly impacts children, so why shouldn’t a child respond?
A House override vote on the veto is scheduled for the week of October 15th. Meanwhile, Democrats will continue their efforts to influence the fifteen Republicans they need to overturn the veto. Interested in helping them change some minds? Well, then, here’s a petition for you.