Thursday, September 20

If Bush Gets His Way: SCHIP is Sinking

Taxing cigarettes at a higher rate equals hurting poor people. This is the logic that Preisdent Bush uses to explain why he would oppose the proposed plan by Democrats to fund the SCHIP program to include an additional 4 million uninsured children for healthcare coverage.

According to CNN
Speaking to reporters at a White House news conference, Bush threatened to veto the bill, which he said Democrats in Congress have come up with to "score political points in Washington." He said it would "raise taxes on poor people and raise spending."

The president said he supports reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, at $5 billion above its current funding.

Democratic congressional aides say their party wants to expand the program to cover an additional 4 million children and pay for it by raising the tax on cigarettes by 61 cents per pack. Bush opposes that, and has threatened to veto the bill.

"The legislation would raise taxes on working people," Bush said, and would include children who could receive health care elsewhere.

Bush urged Congress to pass an extension of the current plan, "that I can sign," by its expiration date of September 30, or, he said millions of children might be at risk.

Critics say the funding that Bush favors won't pay for the 6 million children covered over the next five years.

The bill would add $35 billion over five years to the current $25 billion.

Two House Democratic aides said the deal is a bipartisan one because Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Charles Grassley of Iowa negotiated and signed off on it.

The aides said they have a veto-proof majority in the Senate and that it will pass in the House with some support from moderate Republicans, but concede they may not have a veto-proof margin.

Democrats emphasize that Bush is reneging on his campaign promise during his 2004 convention speech to cover children's health care.

About 9.3 percent of children under the age of 18 and 43.6 million Americans -- 14.8 percent of the total population -- had no health insurance last year, according to a government study released in June.

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