October 5, 2007
BUSH SAYS SCHIP OUT
Uninsured kids—how would they vote?
President Bush's veto of popular bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Wednesday kicked off a multimillion dollar national political battle that could influence dozens of races in 2008 federal elections and determine the makeup of the next Congress.
As we reported last week Bush's veto threatens care for millions of kids, and it's not proving very popular. Several polls (click here and here) earlier this year showed that nine out of ten Americans want SCHIP reauthorized and expanded to cover more uninsured children. And some of the loudest cries of protest against the veto came from Republicans like Utah's Senator Orrin Hatch.
Senate leaders say they've got the votes to override Bush's veto—"We've got to do what we can to try to override," said Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, senior Republican on the Finance Committee. But it's way closer in the House of Representatives, where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has started a radio and phone call campaign against Republicans who voted against SCHIP, including Randy Kuhl from upstate New York.
Fifteen to twenty Republicans will face a torrent of organized SCHIP events, radio and TV ads, and inquiries from newspaper reporters in the next two weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is said to be planning an override vote for the week of October 15, and she's picked up two votes already this week of the 25 or so she needs. Target Republicans who don't vote to override will be the Dems' prime targets in 2008 elections that could reshape Congress and provide the next President with a real governing majority.
Speaking of which—all the Democratic presidential candidates weighed in against Bush, and dozens of SCHIP-themed emails were blasted out of campaign offices and think tanks just minutes after the President issued his veto. While Bush's assertions on SCHIP are mostly ridiculous and conservatives' claims that the SCHIP effort amounts to socialized medicine are laughable (no state has a fully public, state-run health care system, and just about all SCHIP money goes to HMOs and insurance companies), it is true that the SCHIP battle of 2007 could amount to the first shots in the war for universal health care in 2008 and 2009.