Last fall, in the face of criticism throughout my home state of Iowa, I opposed the dramatic, fiscally irresponsible expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and called the expansion to 400% of poverty what it was — the cornerstone of socialized medicine.
On October 18, I said, “After all the posturing and theatrics [over the SCHIP debate], I predict we will get a better deal for poor kids and taxpayers. I will report the results back to Iowans. You will be able to keep score by the billions of dollars that holding the line will save taxpayers.”
Three months later, my prediction came true. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her liberal allies in the Democrat Congress backed down from their effort to lay the cornerstone of socialized medicine in the United States through a big-spending, expansive SCHIP program. President Bush signed into law an 18-month extension of the current SCHIP program, legislation that I and the majority of my Republican colleagues in the House have supported since the summer.
Speaker Pelosi tried to push SCHIP bills through Congress that reflected her San Francisco agenda and values, not the common sense found in most American communities. One bill would have given taxpayer funded health insurance to families of four earning and annual income of $103,250 in my home state of Iowa. The other bill would have given coverage to families making $77,437 in the Hawkeye state. In addition, both bills would have, according to the Congressional Budget Office, opened the door to $6.5 billion in Medicaid mostly to illegal aliens. That’s not a proposal for poor kids. It’s a proposal for the cornerstone of socialized medicine.
When I stood up for taxpayers and opposed this politically-motivated rush to socialized medicine, I drew some intense criticism, claiming that I was more interested in siding with President Bush than I was in ensuring the continued access to subsidized health insurance that many kids across America enjoy through SCHIP. These attacks brought to mind the similar assault I endured when I voted “NO” because there was no responsible plan in place to spend $51.8 billion for Hurricane Katrina recovery.
The history of the Katrina money going to Gucci bags and massage parlors speaks for itself. Just the same, it speaks for itself that the children I had “voted against” are still covered by the same program that covered them before this debate even started. And they’ll continue to be covered by SCHIP, without interruption, for the next 18 months, taking us through the political “silly season” of the presidential elections. This allows us the opportunity to seriously consider principled alternatives to reauthorization of this program that would have otherwise become the cornerstone for socialized medicine in the U.S.
Beyond simply stopping Pelosi’s efforts to inject government in an ever more pervasive way into the lives of average Americans, conservative opposition to Pelosi’s plan also saved American taxpayers billions of dollars -$35.6 to be exact.
How much money is $35.6 billion?
$35.6 Billion is enough to:
• provide over 6 million American couples with enough money to make the maximum contribution to their Health Savings Account
• provide funding for federal abstinence education programs for 201 years
• build a 2000 mile fence and a concrete wall along the full length of our Southern border, stopping 95% of the illegal border jumpers, and still fund the southern Border Patrol until 2017.
Over the course of the SCHIP debate, Pelosi and the other liberals denied their bloated SCHIP bill was the cornerstone of socialized medicine. But we know better. We know that the enactment and expansion of programs like SCHIP have always been intended to serve as incremental pieces of the movement toward socialized medicine. President Clinton acknowledged as much when speaking about the passage of SCHIP in the White House Rose Garden on September 29, 2000.
During this speech, Mr. Clinton stated that “We have now the children’s health insurance coverage” as the result of his and his wife’s proposal of a socialized health care system “that would have covered all Americans.” The goal of enacting socialized medicine in the US in one fell swoop, he confessed, was “too much for the system to accommodate at once.” Instead, the President admitted, “we’ve gone back, piece-by-piece, trying to achieve that.” In standard English, that’s a piece- by- piece effort to socialize medicine.
While we as conservatives can debate the merits of the SCHIP program in and of itself, one thing we can certainly agree upon is that any expansion of the health insurance subsidy program to include kids from upper middle income families, adults, and illegal immigrants cannot be tolerated. For Democrats to say that no other option exists to expand the availability of health insurance for American kids other than to inflate the SCHIP rolls shows an incredible lack of intellectual honesty on their behalf.
We know that changes in tax law, reductions in regulation, and expansions in the use and availability of products like Health Savings Accounts would do much to increase families’ access to health insurance for their kids — without increasing the reach and influence of the federal government. And yet Nancy Pelosi and her similarly closed-minded Democrat followers continue to push legislation aimed at putting another piece of the socialized medicine puzzle on the board.
Pelosi’s liberal audacity will be on full display today when she forces a vote in the House on an outdated Presidential veto. The SCHIP law has already been enacted, but that isn’t stopping her from preening for the camera today in order to “benefit the children.”
“Intellectual dishonesty” can’t even describe the cynicism of this public relations maneuver.
Only a few months ago, Tom Vilsack, former Iowa Democrat Governor, one time candidate for the 2008 Democrat Presidential nomination, and current supporter and advisor to Sen. Hillary Clinton, called Pelosi’s SCHIP proposal, “a commitment to universal coverage.”
Taxpayers expect us as elected officials to act as responsible stewards of the money they send to Washington — a responsibility I take seriously. Knowing that the SCHIP expansion proposed by the liberals in Congress would be a bad deal for taxpayers and the kids who would be saddled with the debt of maintaining this ever-expanding healthcare entitlement, I took a stand for fiscal responsibility and principled policy-making. I am happy to report that, as has happened in the past, my decision to stand with taxpayers against the prevailing political winds has been vindicated. Much to the chagrin of Pelosi and the socialized medicine lobby, we saved the taxpayers 35.6 billion dollars.
Fortunately for America and the American taxpayer, the Democrats’ game has been exposed and, at least for the time being, the debate is over. A responsible SCHIP law has been signed. Taxpayers narrowly avoided a bill for an overly bloated social program totaling tens of billions of dollars, and Pelosi and all the liberals were denied their cornerstone of socialized medicine.