Reject the veto

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This bears repeating: President Bush’s bullheaded insistence on sabotaging reauthorization of the popular State Children’s Health Insurance Program, better known as SCHIP, will hurt the very people -- poor and middle-class Americans -- he claims he wants to protect.

The president complains that Congress’ relatively modest plans to increase funding for the state-administered program, which provides health coverage for 6.6 million children who don’t qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford private insurance, amount to an insidious Democratic effort to create “government-run healthcare” for the middle class. He grumbles that expanding SCHIP will encourage many families to give up private insurance for freebie government coverage, even though SCHIP subscribers don’t get free welfare -- many pay premiums and co-payments, simply at lower rates than most. He complains that $56 billion over five years is profligate government spending, even though his own prescription drug benefit is estimated to cost more than $40 billion next year alone and benefits not only middle-class but wealthy senior citizens.

AARP members vote. Kids don’t. But even the AARP has come out against Bush on SCHIP. So did 18 Republicans in the Senate and 45 in the House. Still, the House, which is scheduled to vote on overriding the SCHIP veto today, probably won’t muster the two-thirds majority required. Setting up a socialized-medicine straw man for election season is apparently more important to the GOP than providing medical care for the nation’s kids. (Or its adults. To date, most Republican presidential candidates have offered only facile bromides about “free markets” when asked how they’ll address the nation’s mounting healthcare crisis.)


One Los Angeles children’s healthcare advocate said this week that though congressional SCHIP opponents were committed to upholding the president’s veto, many were “already thinking twice” about changing their positions in coming weeks, when new versions of the reauthorization bill or an extension of the program may appear. Such time- and money-wasting convolutions wouldn’t be necessary if naysayers would put the bluster aside and do the right thing now: vote to override Bush’s disingenuous veto.

Rep. Mary Bono (Palm Springs) was the only California Republican to join the House majority in attempting to reauthorize SCHIP. We call on her colleagues -- Brian P. Bilbray (Solana Beach), Ken Calvert (Corona), John Campbell (Irvine), John T. Doolittle (Roseville), David Dreier (San Dimas), Elton Gallegly (Simi Valley), Wally Herger (Chico), Duncan Hunter (Alpine), Darrell Issa (Vista), Jerry Lewis (Redlands), Dan Lungren (Gold River), Kevin McCarthy (Bakersfield), Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (Santa Clarita), Gary G. Miller (Diamond Bar), Devin Nunes (Visalia), George Radanovich (Mariposa), Dana Rohrabacher (Huntington Beach) and Ed Royce (Fullerton) -- to follow suit today. If they don’t, voters should remember their failure to act while at the polls next year.