On October 18th, the US House of Representatives will try to override the President’s veto of a greatly expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). As is so often the case, political rhetoric serves as a fog that obscures what the SCHIP legislation really is and who is most affected.
The Democrats believe that they win by losing. Republicans shout “socialized medicine”.
But the Democrats went even lower this past week by bringing out a 12 year old boy and his family to be the ‘poster child’ for SCHIP expansion.
Nancy Pelosi is incensed and explains- by accident- why they chose a
12 year old to headline the program: “I think it’s a sad statement
about how bankrupt some of these people are in their arguments against
SCHIP that they attack a 12-year-old.” In other words, how dare anyone
question what we are doing?
Republicans could be focused on the fact that the program has almost
ZERO funding after the first 5 years. Republicans could be focused on
the hundreds of millions of dollars that are given to favored hospitals
in certain legislative districts around the country. But they cannot
and do not because both parties are equally guilty of promoting
policies and spending that are more at home at the gambling table than
at the dinner table.
Government spending on the proposed SCHIP expansion violates a very
simple principle stated by philosopher/ economist Adam Smith over 200
years ago: “what is prudence in the conduct of every private family,
can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.”
In other words, wildly spending on a credit card you cannot ever repay
is just as destructive for you personally as it is for the country as a
whole. But back to the 12 year old boy who has been marched out to
show who benefits from the expanded SCHIP program.
Instead of attacking his family personally, which rings hollow and just
plain mean to most Americans, opponents ought to bring out the children
living in poverty who might really go hungry or cold because of the
$222 per year tax that was just added to their single parent who
happens to smoke a pack per day. What do you mean? Remember that the
program is partly financed with a 61 cent per pack cigarette tax—a tax
that disproportionately impacts low income adults.
I suspect that most Americans would suddenly be less inclined to
support the SCHIP expansion when they see several children negatively
affected for every 1 child helped. However, given that most government
programs ignore both “the children” and common sense financial
planning, we are likely to see the SCHIP debate played out with them
tucked away and forgotten.