CBS News Poll: Republicans Just Plain Wrong on SCHIP
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Oct 18, 2007 at 04:35:19 PM EDT
Earlier this week Gallup released some data that quite questionably suggested that President Bush was on firm ground in vetoing the expansion of the SCHIP program and that, similarly, Republicans were on firm ground for upholding that veto. The survey yielded some criticism (for instance here on Pollster.com) -- and for good reason. Their numbers just don't jibe with the vast majority of the other available data on SCHIP. Take a look, for example, at the latest CBS News poll (.pdf).
Currently, a government program provides health insurance for some children in low-income families. Would you favor or oppose expanding this program to include some middle-class uninsured children? TotalRepDemIndFavor81709081Oppose1523715
Would you be willing to pay more in taxes in order to fund the expansion of this program?
** AMONG THOSE WHO SAID FAVOR IN Q67 **TotalRepDemIndYes74688271No17231318
Looking at these results, not only does a 70 percent majority of Republicans favor an expansion of the SCHIP program to cover some middle-class children, which is in effect what the Democrats have proposed (and which some congressional Republicans have supported as well), but a a 47.6 percent plurality of Republicans also favor such a move even if it means that their own taxes were increased. Overall, roughly 60 percent (well, 59.94 percent) of respondents indicated that they themselves would be willing to pay more in taxes in order to extend the SCHIP program to cover some middle class children. These numbers are quite unambiguous.
Even despite these numbers, it's not terribly surprising that the Republicans in the House were able to band together to find enough support to sustain President Bush's veto. In recent history it's been extremely difficult for Congress to override a President. For instance, the Republicans overrode just two of President Clinton's 36 vetoes; the Democrats overrode just one of George H.W. Bush's 29 vetoes; and from August 1974 through 1976, during most of which time the Democrats had a two-thirds majority in the House and a 60-seat majority in the Senate, the Democratic Congress overrode just 12 of Gerald Ford's 48 vetoes.
And with the risk of coming off crass and overly political, on a policy level I don't know that it's the worst thing in the world that the Congress was not able to override this veto. Certainly, I strongly believe in the expansion of healthcare to children. What's more, given that actual people's lives are at stake time is certainly of the essence. That said, the prospect of a Democratic Congress working together with a Democratic President for an even better bill in 2009 -- according to an earlier CBS News/New York Timespoll, 49 percent of Americans would accept seeing their own taxes be raised in return for universal healthcare, and 67 percent of Americans would accept paying higher taxes in return for every American child being covered with healthcare -- isn't a terrible alternative.