SCHIP veto reflects triumph of ideology over realism and compassion
President Bush, in a move that even the most hardened cynics had not anticipated, vetoed a bill on Oct. 3 that would have expanded the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which helps state-governments provide health insurance for children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance.
Bush's decision has baffled many people. His Administration took a serious political blow for the veto, as a majority of Americans support the bill according to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll, he now looks hypocritical considering his Administration's liberal spending record and, with nine million children currently uninsured, the bill seems to be a social necessity.
The President's decision to veto the SCHIP was clearly ill advised, so why did he do it? The answer is that the Bush Administration is manically and rigidly committed to a number of static ideologies that have plagued it for the past seven years. One of these rigid policies was former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "light-footprint" military strategy that still has the U.S. military stuck in Iraq. Because the Bush Administration refused to modify or even waver slightly from Rumsfeld's ideas, the U.S. military was unable to commit enough troops to defeat an entrenched insurgency or quell mounting sectarian violence in Iraq.
The same inflexible tendencies compelled Bush to reject the SCHIP bill. The Bush Administration is unwaveringly laissez-faire, pro-market and anti-tax. Convinced that these are the policies Americans prefer above all others, the Administration has refused to deviate from them. This ideological rigidity has made President Bush the most ardent supporter of profit-mad private health insurers.
One can see such delusion at work whenever Bush or his Republican allies attempt to defend their decisions. Bush has stated that he rejected the bill because an expanded SCHIP could draw children away from private coverage and that he is against healthcare becoming "federalized."
But SCHIP gives state-governments, not the federal government, the ability to provide children with health insurance. And private insurers will not be able to provide coverage for all of the country's low-income children because low-income children are not profitable. Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP and other forms of state-provided healthcare cover the people that the private sector cannot. The relationship is simple and does not just apply to healthcare, but such logic escapes our ideologically entrenched representatives in the White House and Capital Building, many of whom gun for lower taxes and the expansion of the private sector at all costs.
Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, for example, argued that the increased tax on cigarettes that would have been used to pay for the SCHIP bill would have compelled the millions of smokers in the US to eventually quit smoking, and thus deprive SCHIP of funds. A logical and realistic person would reason instead that it would actually be a good thing if millions of nicotine-addicted people miraculously quit smoking and that it would be fairly easy to find some other detrimental product to tax for the benefit of children's health.
The debate over the way in which healthcare should be managed in the U.S. has divided many people: some support increased privatization while others support universal healthcare. But is children's healthcare not an obvious social necessity? Bush's veto of the bipartisan SCHIP bill is a clear instance of delusional and illogical party pandering that few people in this country understand or want. In 2008, we need to elect someone with the capacity to make realistic and sound decisions that are not based on ideology but on what is best for the country.
Gus Woods. William "Gus" Woods is a junior who enjoys, far more than anything else, tiddlywinks tournaments and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" re-runs. He is a great fan of any and all music and enjoys playing the piano in his spare time. He belongs, literally belongs, … More »