Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who's Sicker? Dubya or America's Kids?

I have a hard time believing much of what President Bush says because so much of it is misleading or downright false, but his claim that the House of Representatives is playing politics by passing a $35 billion expansion of a popular children’s health-insurance program may be a new low in the annals of compassionate conservatism.

The vote last night was 265 to 159 with 45 politics-playing Republicans joining Democrats by a broad but not veto-proof margin. (That would take 290 votes.) Meanwhile, the Senate takes up the bill later this week and is expected to send it on to the president with a veto-proof majority.

The compromise package would expand the $5 billion-a-year S-CHIP children's health insurance program by an average of $7 billion a year over the next five years for total funding of $60 billion for the period. That would be enough to boost the program's enrollment to 10 million, up from 6.6 million, which would reduce the ranks of America's 9 million uninsured children.

There are a number of ways to put these billions into perspective, but try this one on for size: The money that would be earmarked for kids is a tiny fraction of what is spent in a few weeks in Iraq.

So the president's assertion that expanding the health-insurance program would be too expensive is silly, as is his claim that it would be a form of (gasp!) national health insurance.

At this late date, the president's legacy is in tatters and the only question of substance is whether he will be ajudged the worst president or merely one of the worst. So one more veto of legislation that a majority of Americans favor really won't matter. Unless you happen to be a child without health insurance.

More here on the bill.

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