Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why Does Bush Keep Vetoing S-CHIP?

Here's his veto message for the second veto. The main points seem to be:

1. The goal should be to move the uninsured to private health insurance, not government health insurance.

2. It covers adults, not just children.

3. It covers Americans with incomes above the median income.

4. "It would still result in government health care for approximately 2 million children who already have private health care coverage."

Bush also claims that this second try at S-CHIP was essentially the same as the first one that he vetoed, and that, "The leadership in the Congress has refused to meet with my Administration's representatives."

I can't quite tell what the truth of the matter is. I shudder to think of trying to read the bills myself, and make sense of them. When you start reading entitlement program bills, you often I need significant expertise to figure out what the bill actually does--and people who have the expertise, like the Center for Budget Priorities or the Heritage Foundation, often have their own agenda and biases.

I do think that politics probably plays a big part in this. According to this December 13, 2007 CNN report:
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Democrats were more interested in scoring political points with the veto than in reaching a compromise with Republicans.
"We could have resolved the differences in his program in 10 minutes, if the majority had wanted to resolve the differences," Boehner said. "This has become a partisan political game."
This December 13, 2007 New York Times report also points to political interests in having a fight:
Each side sees the clash making for good politics. The White House, convinced that Republicans lost Congressional seats last year because the public was fed up with government spending, calculates that Mr. Bush will please fiscal conservatives by drawing the line against a big expansion of the program.
Democrats calculate that Mr. Bush will look heartless by vetoing health care for children and that Republicans will suffer at the polls.
Remember that politicians have an interest in accentuating the differences between the parties. I would not be surprised if some members of Congress passed a bill specifically to have something to use in next year's elections as a differentiator. Bush might well see his sudden willingness to veto an increase in Congressional spending as a way to make voters forget how willing Republicans were to raise spending in the last few years.

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