President Bush's Veto of SCHIP Funding Increase

The President has taken a position which I believe is not factually accurate; that this is a form of national or socialized medicine. That’s just not true. The SCHIP program operates primarily by states contracting with private health care providers; managed care organizations to provide coverage to young people. The debate is also about how high up the income scale this program should go. The Democrats and their Republican allies on this issue wish to push the income scale up much further than the President is prepared to do. So, that’s the debate and I think the stakes are pretty high both for children who will currently be affected and for the way the issue plays out between now and the election in November of 2008. This is going to be a big issue in senatorial and congressional campaigns. It’s going to have a significant role, not dominant or certainly not the only issue, but it’s going to have a significant role in a whole series of election campaigns. And, hence, is going to affect the distribution of seats between the parties in 2009 and beyond.

I put the issue that way because it isn’t clear that if the President wins in the short term, his position is necessarily strengthened in the long run. If the President wins in the near term, Democrats are going to use this issue. And it’s entirely possible, not guaranteed but possible, that they have been given a very effective political cudgel to beat Republican opponents around the head and ears with in the campaign. It’s also possible that Republicans who have stuck with the President will find that their positions are solidified in strongly Republican districts. So, this is one of those issues where we don’t know, at this point, what the long term significance is going to be. What is at stake, however, is something on the order of $5 to $7 billion over the next fiscal year that will or will not be available to the states for them to use to extend health coverage to low income children.