S-CHIP Veto Override Likely To Fall Short
The stakes are high for Republicans because the president has basically hung them out to dry, but it appears that few if any nay voters are about to switch sides.After seven years of runaway spending by the White House and a war that has drained $450 billion from the national Treasury, the president used his veto pen for only the fourth time to nix spending more on a program popular with middle-class families who are so squeezed that they cannot adequately insure their children for routine health care, as well as the inevitable emergencies.
With the president having signaled that he might agree to a less expensive expansion, a failed override vote is likely to open the door to negotiations on a compromise.
A TV and radio ad campaign waged by a coalition of labor unions and liberal groups contrasts the cost of expanding children's health care to the billions spent in Iraq, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says it's a choice of siding with Bush or "our kids" in radio spots and automated calls to voters' homes.
About 20 Republicans would have to switch sides for the House to override the veto, and with a vote only 48 hours away that is unlikely to happen because they are pretty much unanimous that an S-CHIP expansion would make additional families eligible whose need for goverment-subsidized health care they believe to be questionable.Knollenberg steadfastly refuses to endorse giving government health insurance to families of four earning more than about $40,000, the so-called "working poor" for whom the program was created for in 1997. Some S-CHIP eligible families now earn as much as $72,000.
Few Republicans have more at stake than Joe Knollenberg, an eight-term congressman and former insurance agent who by his own admission has a "target on his back" because of his firm refusal to change his vote. As a consequence, his standing in Michigan's 9th Congressional District has slipped and he already is running hard for an election that is 13 months away.
"I want the same thing that you want," he tells voters, "But if you want something above $40,000, I'm not your man."
Some targeted Republicans contend the bill would expand eligibility to adults, illegal immigrants and children in families earning up to $83,000 and say the 61-cents-per-pack increase in the federal tobacco tax used to pay for the expansion would fall short because it would require 22 million new smokers.