On October 3rd, President Bush vetoed a bill that would have expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) substantially, doubling the number of kids covered from 4 million to 8 million. This is president Bush’s fourth veto as president. The bill has wide bi-partisan support and in a recent poll, 72% of people supported the expansion. With the support of Republicans, the Senate overrode Bush’s veto, whereas the House fell just short of the necessary 290 votes. Here is an overview of what the SCHIP is all about, courtesy of the Capital Annex blog: “SCHIP is a state-federal program that provides coverage for 6.6 million children from families that live above the poverty level but have trouble affording health insurance”. The administration (as well as Republicans in Congress, some from Texas) argues that the expansion would lead to “government-run health care...and would be financially irresponsible...a foot in the door to socialized medicine”.
Texas tops the list of states and number of kids uninsured, a stark 14%. Texan Senator John Cornyn and 18 Texan Congressman are among the marginal few who voted against the bill. Apparently the fact that Texas ranks the highest among states of number of children without health insurance is a nonconcern for these 19 government officials.
The proposed bill would expand SCHIP by $35 billion over the next five years. Do the math, that’s a little less than $600 million a month. This compared to the approximate $10 billion we spend in war funds a month. This dichotomy of fiscal policy, that of domestic and international affairs, is horrifying when reduced to simple numbers. Initially, the War on Terror was purportedly justified as a war for American's domestic safety. The war for domestic safety begins, of course, at home, inside our nation's borders. Millions of children will go uninsured, but the children of another nation may or may not sleep better at night (and minus 2, 3 terrorists). Sleep well, children, you may not need that health insurance after all! Oh, and a larger national deficit to boot. Sorry, kids. The administration cannot even begin to justify this embarrassing discrepancy between fundings. The only hope for the bill is an eventual override of Bush’s veto. Hopefully the bill’s proponents can garner enough support by the time it is back up for vote.