Friday, October 05, 2007

Bush Lies, Children Die

The New York Times and the Washington Post both have opinion pieces critical of Pres. Bush's S-CHIP veto.

In his WaPo column, Eugene Robinson calls the veto "infuriatingly bad policy," and Bush's stated reasons for rejecting the legislation, "a pack of flat-out lies":

... An estimated 9 million children in this country are not covered by health insurance -- a circumstance that should shock the consciences of every American. Democrats and Republicans worked together to craft an expansion of an existing state-run program that would have provided coverage for about 4 million children who currently don't have it.
The program Congress voted to expand provides health insurance for children who fall into a perilous gap: Their families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don't make enough to afford health insurance. The cost of covering an additional 4 million children was estimated at around $35 billion over five years. That's a lot of money. But in the context of a $13 trillion economy -- and set against Bush's history of devil-may-care, "buy the house another round" spending -- it's chump change.
The president said Congress was trying to "federalize health care," even though the program in question is run by the states. The president said that "I don't want the federal government making decisions for doctors and customers," even though the vetoed bill authorizes no such decisions -- the program enrolls children in private, I repeat, private, health insurance plans.

And here's my favorite: "This program expands coverage, federal coverage, up to families earning $83,000 a year. That doesn't sound poor to me." But the bill he vetoed prohibits states from using the program to aid families who make more than three times the federal poverty limit, or about $60,000 a year for a family of four. Most of the aid would go to families earning substantially less.

Bush's spurious $83,000 figure comes from a request by New York state to use the program for some families earning four times the poverty limit. That request was denied by the Bush administration last month -- and that upper limit is not in the bill Bush vetoed. End of story. If New York or any other state were to ask again to be able to raise the income limits, the administration could simply say no.

The Times adds:
Mr. Bush stretched the truth considerably when he told an audience in Lancaster, Pa., that he has long been a strong supporter of the S-chip program. “I supported it as governor, and I support it as president of the United States,” he said. As governor of Texas, Mr. Bush fought — unsuccessfully — to restrict the state’s program to children with family incomes up to 150 percent of the poverty level, well below the 200 percent allowed by federal law. As president, he is again trying to shrink the program for the entire country. His proposed five-year budget does not provide enough to continue enrollments at current levels, let alone cover millions of the uninsured.

Shaun Mullen rounds up some of the news coverage on S-CHIP.

And by the way, in case any visiting right-wingers think the title of this post is hyperbole, click here. And here. And here.

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