Bush vetoes children’s health bill

President George W. Bush on Wednesday vetoed legislation expanding a health care program mostly aimed at poor children, a politically risky move ahead of the November 2008 elections.

The president’s Democratic foes, unable to curtail the unpopular war in Iraq, have seized on his opposition to their plan to build up the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as a potent political weapon.

Bush’s top Republican allies have declared they have the votes to prevent the US Congress from overriding his veto — even as some rank-and-file have worriedly surveyed a political landscape dominated by the war.

About 72 percent of Americans backed the legislation, according a recent public opinion poll by the Washington Post and ABC television. The survey had an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points.

Aware of the potential political costs, Bush formally rejected the bill behind closed doors at the White House, with a junior aide announcing the move over the loudspeakers in the media workspace.

It was just the fourth time the president used his veto power since taking office in January 2001. US voters will decide their next president and control of the US Congress in the November 2008 elections.

Democrats immediately pounded Bush, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accusing him of “denying health care to millions of low-income kids” and vowing to “fight hard” to win the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto.

“With today’s veto, President Bush has turned his back on America’s children and he stands alone,” Reid charged.

The White House had opposed the bill as a step towards socialized medicine, and complained that it would be too expensive, would induce some families now using private insurers to switch to government-funded coverage, and would extend to families that the president did not consider “poor.”

“Poor kids, first,” Bush told supporters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, adding that he hoped to work with lawmakers on a compromise “that focuses on the poor children” and was flexible on the overall dollar amount.

But “the policies of the government ought to be, help people find private insurance, not federal coverage. And that’s where the philosophical divide comes in,” he said.

SCHIP, a program jointly managed by the states and Washington, subsidizes health insurance for roughly 6.6 million people, most of them children, who fall in the gap between being able to pay for private care and being eligible for another government health care program, Medicare.

The Senate passed the SCHIP program in September with 67 members of the 100 member chamber voting for it — enough to override a veto, while the margin was not as wide in the House of Representatives.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the program would allow 4.4 million more children to enroll in the program. The cost of 35 billion dollars over five years would be offset by raising the tax on a packet of cigarettes by 61 cents to one dollar.

Veteran Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy slammed the move, branding it “the most inexplicable veto in the history of the country” and charging “it is incomprehensible, it is intolerable, it is unacceptable.”

“This is a defining issue, not only about children but about the values of this country.”

Senator Joseph Biden, a 2008 presidential candidate, warned Bush had “denied health insurance to 3.8 million kids.”

“He’s willing to spend billions and billions of dollars in Iraq, but he’s not willing to invest in our kids’ healthcare. It is unconscionable and wrong,” said Biden.

Democratic Senator Max Baucus signaled Democrats would fight to convince the 15 or so Republicans needed to join Democrats in the House to fight to override the veto.

“The President is wrong, the Congress is right, it’s that clear, it’s that simple.”

And several Republican senators gave notice of looming trouble for Bush, and one, Chuck Grassley of Iowa vowed to call Republican House members to ask them to desert the president.

“The administration’s position … it was either ‘my way or the highway.’

“Well, that’s not how the legislative process works. Now we’ve got to do what we can to try to override,” Grassley said.

Senator Orrin Hatch, a normally loyal Republican, also said he was dismayed by the veto.

“If we’re truly compassionate, it seems to me we’d want to endorse this program.


  1. Steve Horn

    Isn’t that special – a “compassionate conservative” who earns in excess of $300,000 a year, lives in public housing, travels on the nations dime (in a very nice aircraft – I’ve been in AF1)and receives a comprehensive health care plan for himself and his family at no charge to himself is moaning about providing health care to poor and middle income kids.

    If we can’t afford something positive like SCHIP how can we justify the waste of lives and money in Iraq?

    I wonder just how many people GW knows personally who earn $40K a year and have to support their families – I wonder if he has any real clue as to the impact of ever increasing health care cost on the American people.

    Why do we, who vote our “leaders” into office, deserve anything less than the health care available to them?

    With his administrations desire to dig into and monitor every aspect of our lives, you’d think he’d jump at the chance to learn about our personal lives from a medical point of view.

    Compassionate conservative my ass – he’s just a greedy, beady-eyed fool.



  2. neondesert

    Steve, Bush knows several people who earn $40k/yr or less. They trim his shrubs, cut his grass, wash his windows, haul his trash, gas up his Suburban, and serve his meals. He knows them, he just doesn’t necessarily talk to them.

    No big deal if their kids don’t survive to take over when they retire (retire…heh). There are plenty of others who are willing to cross the border to do the same work to ward off starvation.

    Meanwhile, we have bullets and bombs, contract mercenaries, subsidies for corporate farms, and bridges and highways to remote suburban developments for which we need that tax money.

  3. LurkingFromTheLeft

    The last line of this says it all –

    WANDERINGS, with Walter Brasch
    For release: Oct. 3, 2007

    Why Bush Should Have Signed the Children’s Health Act

    by Walter M. Brasch

    President George W. (“I-Demand-an-Up-or-Down-Vote”) Bush today [Oct. 3] vetoed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which expired this past week. The highly successful program to aid children was begun in 1997 under the Clinton presidency.
    The bipartisan legislation bill to increase funding and continue SCHIP was passed overwhelmingly by the House (265–159) and Senate (67–29). It would have increased health insurance for about two to four million children. Bush vetoed the bill behind closed doors and with no media present. About 6.5 million children are currently covered by state and federal programs. More than 43 million people are not covered by health insurance, with about six million under the age of 18.
    The Senate had enough votes to override the President’s veto. However, House minority whip Ray Blunt (R-Mo.), who met with President Bush the day before the veto, said he was “absolutely confident” the House would fail to get the two-thirds vote to override the veto.
    This was Bush’s fourth veto, his first one was to deny federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. His other vetoes, both in the Summer, were against House and Senate majority votes to reduce barriers on stem cell research and to systematically withdraw troops from Iraq. Why Bush only vetoed four bills in seven years is easily explained by a Republican Congress that refused to challenge him on critical social issues, and a Democrat minority that during his first term and much of his second term failed to bring numerous issues into full public discussion.
    The additional funds for the children’s health care program would come from a 61-cent per pack increase in federal cigarette taxes. Dana Perino, Bush’s press secretary, spinning the veto as a plea for social justice, claimed the tax increase was “completely irresponsible.” Congress was irresponsible, she said, because the tax increase would affect the poor people of America because, as she claimed, the lower classes have the largest numbers of smokers. Her reasons may have been the first time that the Bush–Cheney Administration acknowledged there were poor people in America and that the oil-rich Administration “cared” about them.
    President Bush himself threw the fear of socialized medicine into the discussion, claiming that the legislation would entice people to switch to government health insurance and, thus lead to socialized medicine. He didn’t mention that he, the Vice-President, all members of the Cabinet, the Executive office, Congress, most federal agencies, and the military all are covered by a socialized medicine program.
    The cost of SCHIP would increase spending only $7 billion a year for five years, $35 billion total, up from the current $5 billion a year. The entire five-year cost of the health care program, including the increase, would be about four months of the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In contrast to the $25 billion increase, Bush demands that Congress authorize an additional $189 billion to continue his invasion and occupation of Iraq. The total cost is expected to be at least $1 trillion, not including costs of extended health care for wounded and disabled veterans. President Bush, apparently, also had little concern about turning a surplus when he took office into a $3.5 trillion federal debt in less than seven years.
    It makes no difference if Bush vetoed the health care bill because he wrongly believed he was “helping” tobacco-puffing lower income families or because he was frightened because terrorists, who imposed socialized medicine upon most civilized Western countries, would cross from Canada into the United States and scare Americans into becoming healthy.
    George W. Bush, the strutting and smirking commander-in-chief, should have signed the bill because he needs every child in America to be healthy. It will be the children, protected by SCHIP, who will be called to Iraq and Afghanistan in the next decade.

    [Walter Brasch’s 17th book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available at amazon.com, bn.com, and most bookstores. Dr. Brasch, an award-winning social issues journalist, is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University.]


  4. Bill Robinson

    There is an interesting dynamic taking place in CHB, for it seems that as the columnists grow more reticent and conservative in their attitudes, the readers and responders (including myself) are becoming more agitated, more liberal, and more demanding for active resistance to the curtailing of laws, the secrecy and abbrogation of human rights perpetrated by this administration, and the fiscal flippancy and irresponsibility of Bush and his cohorts.
    A five page article in the NY TIMES about the Justice Department’s caving in and suborning torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in Guitanamo and secret jails all over the world indicates Bush’s responsibility for these violations of the Geneva Convention and laws of human decency. Cheney seems to be the driving force behind the violations, with Bush aiding by appointing his lackey Gonzales to bring the department under the cover of the White House. Complicity in the law breaking actions was rewarded while opposition was dealt with by early dismissal. “If ya can’t con em, kick em out” seems to be the prevailing policy. These violators of the laws of the USA hid their actions behind the veil of secrecy needed for national security–once a viable cover but by now so overused that it has lost all credibility.
    Now Bush vetos a bill that would help the children of our country–citing fiscal responsibility or irresponsibility. It doesn’t matter which because neither is true. The bill would help kids, poor kids, and I cannot see how that can be irresponsible when we are pissing away 30 BILLION DOLLARS every day in a false and unjust war. Bush must go, and his henchman Cheney must go with him. They are destroying all the good things this country once stood for, they are robbing the American people, and now they are hurting our children–the future for our country. They have recklessly destroyed the image of the United States abroad, their diplomatic practices are abhorrent to most of the world, and people in other lands who once thought highly of America now regard us with contempt if not outright hatred.
    They must go and go now. Impeachment is the only option. Today before it is too late. Dump them both before they dump any more of their crap on us. Impeach the traitors! Impeach Bush and Cheney.
    Bill Robinson

  5. Steve Horn

    Bill – I hope that you weren’t including me the “liberal” camp – I’m a leftists dangit – or as Mother Jones once said “I’m a hell raiser” –

    That said, I’ve been calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush for years – sometimes my throat gets hoarse from shouting –

    I’m sick of the lilly livered liberals making great statements and contributing to global warming by the constant warm, fetid air flowing from the halls of congress but doing nothing NOTHING to bring this man and his co-horts to justice, and come the next election cycle – I’ll remember who did or didn’t do what – and vote accordingly – the rest of the nation would be well advised to do the same.



  6. LurkingFromTheLeft

    And we know…

    …which direction I come from –

    …the name says it all! –


  7. bryan mcclellan

    Perhaps if we all became as Hyper Religious as these fools claim to be,got on our knees,prayed real hard for their downfall in the name of their deity ,and did not falter in our zeal…..Sorry, never mind, I forgot.Evil begets itself,begets itself.This is the reason these no neck slack jawed Bastards are in power, and sadly ,they will never be subjected to the knot at the end of the rope that dangles from the gallows they have so meticulously crafted for our nations execution.Rod Serling was right.There is no justice on this or any dimension in existence.The evil that is “MAN” is this universes only constant.Look no further than D.C. if you need proof of my contention..PMFOT.s

  8. Steve Horn

    Or we could do what the vast majority of Americans do now – sit on our fat asses and do nothing at all, vote “party line” because it’s convenient and that way, there’s no need to learn about issues or candidates, and learn to accept being subjects of the state – rather than the masters of it.

    I guess that’s the only problem with a forum like CHB – we’re all preachin’ to the choir …



  9. Jim C

    Does anyone else find it a bit ironic that bush and the rest of these republican politicians go on and on about the evils of government run healthcare when thats exactly what they have ?

  10. SEAL

    Steve said:
    “I guess that’s the only problem with a forum like CHB – we’re all preachin’ to the choir …”

    Don’t forget that our enemies are reading what we say here. If we continue to hammer them with the truth and the facts, we may convert a few of them. That’s why it is important to watch how we say what we say. If we come off as crazy radicals we only confirm their preconception and provide them with ammunition. We must be the sane voice and backup what we say with fact and/or credibility.

    Also, what would we do without a place to vent? How crazy frustrated would we get?

  11. erika morgan

    So like Bush and his buddies, steal money from our common treasury to hire hit men (Blackwater), but the kid with brain cancer at age 3, who’s worried sick parent must give up her job (that pays the medical insurance) so she can nurse him through years of traumatic treatments; well those unfortunate people don’t really deserve to live. An earlier brilliant move by this administration denys bankruptcy protection for overwhelming medical bills. Come on democrats, we have to be better then this!