GOP Digs in on Opposition to Children's Healthcare

It's bad enough for the Republican Party that its standard bearer, George W. Bush, has pledged to veto wildly popular legislation that would extend healthcare coverage to children who do not yet have it. But a party always has a capacity to distance itself from its leadership should it want to. Apparently, however, the GOP does not want to back away from the President on children's healthcare -- it wants to embrace his extremist and ideologically-driven position. Robert Pear reports for The New York Times:

Republican leaders of the House and Senate on Tuesday attacked proposals that call for a major expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program, to be financed with higher tobacco taxes.

"Republicans will fight these proposals," said the House Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio.

In an unexpected turn of events, the top two Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Trent Lott of Mississippi, said they opposed a bipartisan bill that the Senate Finance Committee approved last week and would offer an alternative on the Senate floor.


Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, a leading proponent of the House bill, said: "For the longest time, I was mystified why Republicans would oppose expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program to kids who are eligible but not enrolled. Now I realize. They are trying to deny us a political victory. They want to be able to say that Democrats can't get anything done.

There is reason to believe that DeGette is right -- that the Republicans are blocking this measure solely out of their diligence to the cause of obstructionism. Considering the fact that Senate Republicans are blowing away the record for obstructionism, certainly this is a plausible answer.

But I do not believe it is the correct one. No, more likely Republicans mean what they say when they offer their reasoning behind opposing the Democratic measure to expand SCHIP to cover more children -- they are ideologically opposed to taking this approach. The problem for the GOP in this case is that their position is terribly unpopular, even with the Republican base.

Take a look back at the comprehensive polling commissioned on the American healthcare system by The Times and CBS News earlier this year, Americans support the idea of expanding SCHIP to cover all children (a proposal that goes even farther than that of either House or Senate Democrats) by a remarkable 84 percent to 11 percent margin. Even Republicans overwhelmingly support such a measure, 72 percent to 21 percent. A majority of Republicans, albeit a smaller one of 57 percent, support the government providing healthcare coverage for all American children even if it means that their own taxes would be raised. As I noted at the time, my assumption is "that an even higher number would register support for a plan that would just raise tobacco taxes, not impose an additional payroll tax or increase income taxes."

So if Congressional Republicans think they are safe ground fighting the expansion of SCHIP on ideological grounds, they are sorely mistaken. They simply do not have the backing of their own base in this matter. Perhaps if they were blocking this for partisan reasons their base would stomach their actions, but as it is they might find themselves in real trouble, both with their base as well as with the broader electorate (which is even more supportive of the expansion of SCHIP than simple Republican voters).

Tags: 110th congress, Healthcare, Obstructionism, Republicans, SCHIP (all tags)



Re: GOP Digs in on Opposition to Children's Health

I believe in expanding S-CHIP, I believe in total universal healthcare. What I don't believe in is doing it on the back of smokers. They are not ATM machines any government project or government shortfall.

Everyone is constantly reminded of how smokers incur consts to society--well how about we use the (regressive) sin taxes that are collected to directly adress this cost they incur? Insuring children is a moral and necesary goal--and its cost should be a burden for everyone, not just the icky people we don't like.

If Democrats are afraid of raising taxes on everyone to pay for this and think it's just a much easier pill to swallow if taxes are raised on the smokers everyone loves to demonize, then they don't deserve their majority.

People can't have it both ways. You cannot make smokers into Evil People, demonize them and restrict their rights, only to go to them for their money when you want to build a new road, balance a deficit, or provide health care to kids. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Healthcare is a cost that should be burdened by everyone, not just smokers.  

by need some wood 2007-07-24 09:46PM | 0 recs

The core idea of conservatism is to enrich the few and fuck everybody else. The core value is greed, alongside hate and fear.

by Populism2008 2007-07-24 11:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Conservatism

can I get that as a bumper sticker?

by fireinthedawn 2007-07-25 06:10AM | 0 recs
Re:need some wood

"--well how about we use the (regressive) sin taxes that are collected to directly adress this cost they incur?"
by: need some wood

If it makes you feel better just remind yourself that children born to parents that smoke have fucked up health problems. Can't get more direct than that! ;-)

by bluebevy dot com 2007-07-24 11:11PM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Digs in on Opposition to Children's Health

It IS politics... just one week ago, these two guys claimed how great the SCHIP bill was that got voted out of committee... suddenly, a change of heart?  What, did rush do another hit job on them or something?

It's time for an all out blitz and PR war...  I know we have very little media that will pay attention, but if you're going to try to derail something, you shouldn't derail something that is super popular... like they learned with social security... AARP is on board with this one, too, so maybe we can push out a victory here...

It is clear that the Senate will filibuster anything we put out there.  We can have a bill that canonizes Ronald Reagan as a saint, and they will filibuster that, too.  They have no other political option but to drag us into the mud...

And we should repeat that talking point each and every time we are talking to the press.

This whole fiasco has made me sick with anger and contempt... I didn't sleep at all last night...



by lordmikethegreat 2007-07-25 03:38AM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Digs in on Opposition to Children's Health

I don't think it has anything to do with their obstructionism. It has to do with embracing an ideology that is positively EVIL. They WANT the poor to suffer rather than giving up the tax money. Personally I'd have em all round up and hung but unfortunately I'll never get that kinda power.

by fireinthedawn 2007-07-25 03:50AM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Digs in on Opposition to Children's Health

Just become President and you can stick the power to round up and hang Republican obstructionists in a signing statement.

by howie14 2007-07-25 04:01AM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Digs in on Opposition to Children's Health

I love you guys. Always a chuckle.

by fireinthedawn 2007-07-25 04:09AM | 0 recs
Yup, they're EVIL

And I'm not being facetious.  The GOP is willing to spend hundreds of billions on a war that's only making things worse for everyone except the Islamic fundies and terrorists, but they'll fight to the death our attempts to insure America's children at a much smaller cost.

What sort of morality stands behind that?

It's funny, you know: many evangelicals talk about how we're in the end times, when the lights get lighter, the darks get darker, and the middle ground vanishes.

I don't think we're in the end times, but the rest of it's happening, and the evangelicals are on the dark side.

by RT 2007-07-25 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Yup, they're EVIL

just glad to see I can call it black and white and not be alone. <3

by fireinthedawn 2007-07-25 06:08AM | 0 recs
Culture of life?

What kind of "culture of life" would deny healthcare coverage to children most in need? Heaven forbid that clumps of cells destined for the trash bin should not be used in groundbreaking research to save lives...but why on earth would we actually want to help real, live children enjoy the sanctity of life?

Republicans only care about you between conception and birth, after that every sick child has to bow at the altar of Reagan and whisper a prayer that the free market will save them.

by pennquaker08 2007-07-25 05:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Culture of life?

"Heaven forbid that clumps of cells destined for the trash bin should not be used..."

Make that "should be used"...darned double negatives in the morning!

by pennquaker08 2007-07-25 05:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Culture of life?

Life begins at conception and ends at birth.  What's so confusing about that?

by dataguy 2007-07-25 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Digs in on Opposition to Children's Health

Every time I read about what the GOP is doing I am always caught in an uncomfortable position: on the one hand I want to laugh out loud at how easy they make it for us to beat them, and on the other hand I want to cry for the damage they continue to do.

by alipi 2007-07-25 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Digs in on Opposition

This is an incredibly simplistic article that completely avoids any discussion of the massive proposed expansion of this program or how much it is going to cost.  And, by the way, the expansion doesn't just relate to children's healthcare.  A lot of adults are being thrown in for good measure.

You can't backdoor the establishment of a single payer system.  If that is what you want, then let's get a proposal on the table and be honest with everyone as to how much it is going to cost (everyone!), what it will do to consumer choice and what will need to be done to control costs.

Single payer may not be an irrational choice as a matter of macro policy -- but it is certainly not a perfect one either.  If you want it, lay it out there and don't try to do it through the side route of a massive expansion of a pre-existing (and good) program.

by dchavern 2007-07-25 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Digs in on Opposition

If you want it, lay it out there and don't try to do it through the side route of a massive expansion of a pre-existing (and good) program.

Ummm... isn't this the way everything gets done in Washington? How many bridges get built through a defense approps bill? How many tax loopholes get stuck in some omnibus farm bill that no one reads? Heck, if you notice, Medicare, which started as a program for the elderly, now covers the disabled and anyone who needs dialysis. Would it have been better to propose two new "clean" programs and risk them not being passed or attach it to a popular program and ensure it gets implemented (After all, the average voter will probably never be disabled or need dialysis, but they will get old)?

I don't necessarily disagree with you about how policy should get made in an ideal world, and this sausage-making meat grinder-way has plenty of problems, but in general, the "legislative process" means getting your project (worthy or not in and of itself) passed by hook or crook. Whether that's with an up-and-down vote on the bill itself or by attaching to to some other popular bill or program, the goal is to just get it done. No one remembers "perfect" policies that never got passed.

by loon 2007-07-25 04:23PM | 0 recs
Re: GOP Digs in on Opposition to Children's Health

I think that the GOP's strategy of "neuter any and all legislation so the democrats can claim no accomplishments" is the overriding goal here. It worked for universal health in 1994, Lott even said it's "working for us" a couple of weeks ago.

We've got to keep pounding out the message of the obstructionism of the Repubs, in details large and small.  Anecdotes, affects on individuals, submitting stories to the news networks and papers, complaining everywhere possible.  

by jc 2007-07-25 08:09AM | 0 recs

Republicans are trying to stop Health Care reform in Wisconsin too.  Two assembly seats in '08 and Republicans in Wisconsin don't matter.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-07-25 09:06AM | 0 recs


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