Well, Bush has now officially vetoed the extension of SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program), which would expand coverage to 10 million children from the 6.6 million covered now. This should seem pretty appalling, but it just doesn’t seem right to blindly back an expensive bill because it sounds good and, oh, a bipartisan majority in Congress voted for it. So, as an intellectual exercise, I searched the internet for cogent arguments against SCHIP. I looked through a lot of pages of Google News Search results, looked for editorials at newspapers with conservative managing boards (The Washington Times and Wall Street Journal), and even took a look at the policy statements at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
So, what did I find?
Nothing, really. It was hard enough to find anti-SCHIP editorials in major papers in the first place, save for the Journal (the editorial staff of the Washington Times seems to be too busy delivering spittle-flecked anti-immigration tirades to cover this issue). To summarize, the talking points of Bush and other who oppose the bill are:
- The specter of government-run health care– Call it HillaryCare, socialism, or what have you, but I don’t find this too alarming. If a sign that the wealthiest nation in the world is striving to take care of every child is seen as a stumble towards socialism, then something is not right.
- The fact that Republicans are being too bipartisan in supporting this bill– this showed up a few times in the Journal, where editorials alleged that the Republicans are loosening their commitment to fiscal restraint by backing this bill. Compared with the newest spending bill for the war in Iraq, $35 billion over a few years doesn’t seem all that bad.
- That big, ugly $83,000 number– This is the centerpiece of OMB’s pathetic 1.5 paragraph statement of administration policy on SCHIP. Let me quote: “[The bill]… turns a program meant to help low-income children into one that covers children in some households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year.” Bush himself said in his speech today that that “doesn’t sound to poor to me.” This is little more than an appeal to the most callous and willingly ignorant of his supporters. Yes, that figure does sound pretty bad if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to think about things for more than 5 seconds at a time. If you’re not, you might take the time to find out that this is the highest income cap for those who meet certain criteria, such as having four children and living in states with a very high cost of living, circumstances in which a household income of $83,000 might not go all that far.
So, here’s the fun part. The last anti-SCHIP point seems to be part of a long tradition of attacking a government aid bill by fomenting resentment toward those who would seem to benefit undeservedly from it; e.g., those lazy middle-class parents who will probably use SCHIP to pay for Timmy’s stitches when he slips in their outdoor, in-ground hot tub (because, you know, people who make $83,000 a year are rich enough to afford that stuff). One of the best ways to fuel this resentment is with a short, nasty epithet– think of the Reagan-era gem “welfare queen.” So, I’d like to challenge all 5 of my reader base to come up with a new anti-SCHIP epithet. I’m looking for something that will crystallize all the resentment that bush is trying to drum up towards the illusion of smug, sort-of-wealthy middle class families who gain a free ride off the government with this new entitlement. I’m not very creative, but I’ll give it a go just to have an example:
- Cruise-SCHIP families (or, those who get a free ride on the cruise SCHIP)
- Paging Dr. Taxpayer, your freeloader is here to see you
Okay, those are pretty bad. Got any better ideas? Please comment.
(Bored bourg bloggers is already taken.)