It was supposed to be a no-lose issue for the Congressional Democrats. Expansion of SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, to cover more poor kids, would put them on the side of the angels and, with its flaws masked, throw the Republicans on the defensive.
It worked — for awhile. The pollsters asked the people, Should health care coverage of poor children be expanded? Of course, they said. The Democrats trotted out their hoary talking point about the Republicans wanting to throw poor children out in the snow (or wherever they throw children because they always do).
President Bush vetoed the bill. Send me a corrected bill, he said. No, we’ll override it to show the public that we are on the right side, the Democrats said. They made a few minor adjustments to the bill, couldn’t budge any more Congressional Republican votes. Result: the veto override effort failed.
The secret here is that the Democrats — always trying to plan two jumps ahead — wanted it to fail.
They are convinced that it is a surefire issue for them, come November 2008. They don’t care as much about children as about winning the next election. They figure they can hang the blame for “hurting children” on the Republicans, win veto-proof majorities in Congress in ’08 and/or
the White House. Then, they will move toward their real goal: nationalized, government-run health care for all.
The SCHIP bill was intended to be the camel’s nose under the health care tent. SCHIP was actually created by a Republican Congress in 1997 to cover poor children, period. The major flaw in the bill is that it would expand coverage to approximately two million children who are already privately insured. Children in families of four with annual incomes of twice the poverty level (approximately $40,000) are currently eligible for SCHIP. This would be raised to include families making three times the poverty level, or $61.900. This is well above the median U.S. household income ($48,201, according to the Census Bureau). Thus, it would move SCHIP coverage well into the middle class.
This, indeed, is the camel shoving its nose well into the tent. “Fee” government health insurance? If you and your family already have private coverage and make $61,900 a year, would you drop it for the “free” coverage? Of course. So, this year it’s $61,900; next year $80,00, and so forth.
With expanded SCHIPs in place, the Democrats will have the middle class bracketed: seniors under Medicare; children under SCHIPs. The next step would be easy — and both ruinously expensive and inefficient in a country with a Congress that does not know how to face the train wreck heading toward Medicare and Social Security.
The Republicans have begun to pound on the real reason behind the expansion of SCHIP. It will take a lot more pounding on the down-range cost of expanded “free” care. At the same time, they need to remind one and all of what we’ll get at the end of the road: a health care system as clotted as those of Canada and Britain.
In short, they need to make sure the camel gets a steady nosebleed.
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