Of course, GWB is threatening to veto the compromise legislation to provide reauthorization and expansion of SCHIP. (State Children’s Health Insurance Program)
And of course he is setting the stage to pin the rose of infamy on the Democratic Congress. The big question is whether the Democrats are agile enough to sidestep the Bush bushwhack and lay the responsibility back at the Decider’s own feet.
With authorization for the current program due to expire on September 30, Bush, while promising to veto the compromise legislation, is calling for Congress to extend the current SCHIP legislation or otherwise it will be Congress’ fault that millions of children will lose health coverage until an agreement is reached. (the Dems capitulate) An extension of the program would literally kick kids out of doctor’s offices all over the country because the current funding is insufficient to maintain the present participation numbers. Even the $5 billion increase over the next five years that the Decider will endorse will not cover the present number of children in the program. Some will have to go.
This from Bush:
He said that while he and Congress work out the issues with the reauthorization, Congress “has an obligation to make sure health insurance for poor children does not lapse” (Schor, The Hill, 9/21). Bush said that if Democrats do not pass an extension of the program, “more than a million children could lose health coverage,” and “coverage for these children should not be held hostage while political ads are being made and new polls are being taken” (Freking, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/21).
Bush said, “Instead of working with the administration to enact this funding increase for children’s health, Democrats in Congress have decided to pass a bill that they know will be vetoed” (Chicago Tribune, 9/21). He added, “Members of Congress are putting health coverage for poor children at risk so they score political points in Washington” (USA Today, 9/21).
Why is the Decider so sure he must veto the legislation before even studying it, without contemplating the consequences? He claims that it is because it is a step toward the federalization of health care but what he doesn’t say is that it is because it might represent a step away from the deep pockets of insurance corporations.
More from Bush;
“Democratic leaders in Congress want to put more power in the hands of government by expanding federal health care programs,” adding, “I have a different view. I believe the best approach is to put more power in the hands of individuals by empowering people and their doctors to make health care decisions that are right for them.”
So it is time for Congressional Democrats to step up. It is time for Harry Reid to do more than make a bland statement to the effect that “we did everything we could”.
He must actively campaign within the Senate to ensure Republican as well as Democratic support, enough support to override a veto. Democrats and some Republicans who have worked hard for this compromise bill are up in arms at the Presidential Attitude. Republicans are also concerned about the potential political fallout from voting against health insurance for kids. As Rahm Emanuel states, “Health care on the domestic side is what Iraq is on the foreign policy side. It is a top issue. When you veto it, you own it”.