President Bush used his radio address this week to once again push his faulty and inaccurate argument against the expansion of the State Childrenâ€™s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The president began by saying, â€œIn just eight days, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program — or “SCHIP” — is set to expire. This important program helps children whose families cannot afford private health insurance, but who do not qualify for Medicaid, to get the coverage they need. I strongly supported SCHIP as a governor, and have strongly supported it as President. My 2008 budget proposed to increase SCHIP funding by $5 billion over five years, a 20 percent increase over current funding.â€
Bush then made the bogus charge that expanding the program will raise taxes. â€œThe proposal congressional leaders are pushing would raise taxes on working Americans and would raise spending by $35 to $50 billion. Their proposal would result in taking a program meant to help poor children and turning it into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year.â€
He also falsely equated the SCHIP program with government run healthcare. â€œAnd their proposal would move millions of children who now have private health insurance into government-run health care. Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage — not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage.â€
Bush made it clear that he wants his bill with a minimum program increase passed. â€œI called this week for Congress to make sure health insurance for poor children does not lapse. If they fail to do so, more than a million children could lose health coverage. Health coverage for these children should not be held hostage while political ads are being made and new polls are being taken. Congress must pass a clean, temporary extension of the current SCHIP program that I can sign by September 30th, the date the program expires.â€
After saying that the Congress also had to hurry up and pass the funding bill for the Department of Defense, Bush concluded, â€œThe American people expect their elected leaders in Washington to work together by passing responsible bills in a timely manner. I am confident that with good will on both sides, Democrats and Republicans can do this. We can meet our obligations to help poor children get health coverage. We can meet our responsibilities to the men and women keeping our Nation safe. And we can do our duty to spend the taxpayer’s money wisely.â€
What is really going on here is that President Bush is playing politics with the SCHIP program in order gain credibility with the fiscal conservatives. President Bush has never explained how exactly expanding the SCHIP program would raise taxes. Bush is also trying to mislead people on the SCHIP program. The program is a voluntary for states and individuals. SCHIP is not free. It is an income based program with premiums and co-pays which are set based on family income.
It boggles my mind that President Bush would try to play politics with such a popular program. Governors and Congress persons of both parties love the SCHIP program. It is wildly popular, and it makes no sense for Bush to battle over an additional $6 billion over five years, when he is ready to commit to spending $10-25 billion per year in order to maintain a permanent presence in Iraq. All I can conclude is that President Bush is more willing to spend American tax dollars in Iraq, than he is to provide health insurance to American kids. This position is in a nutshell the reason why President Bush is so unpopular.
Jason Easley is the politics editor at www.411mania.com/politics His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET.