Strange Place To Make A Stand

President Bush promises to veto expansion of children’s health care program.

I don’t doubt for a minute that the Democrats are using this issue to score political points. If they really want to make health care affordable, they can start with reining in the trial lawyers whose frivolous lawsuits force physicians to spend half their income on liability insurance and order all kinds of needless tests. Of course they won't, because the trial lawyers are among their biggest contributors.

Nonetheless, this is a strange place for Bush to suddenly draw the line. How many spending bills has he vetoed in the last seven years? None. Zero. For six years the GOP-controlled Congress spent money like drunken sailors and handed out billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, who also happen to be major donors to Republican campaigns. Bush signed off on all of it. He especially liked the vastly more expensive prescription drug benefit for retirees. (The fact that senior citizens vote, while children do not, had nothing to do with this dichotomy, of course.) Bridges to nowhere and $900 hammers also received the president's signature.

The SCHIP spending bill Bush now intends to veto costs $35 billion. Not chump change, but it’s a drop in the bucket for our Brobdingnagian federal government. Along comes a bill to provide health care for children of the poor, though, and the White House decides we just can't afford it. Are there better ways to help poor kids? Of course. There is good reason to veto this bill. But why this one and none of the others?

The fact that the Bush Administration allowed itself to be backed into this corner is a sign of remarkable, almost unprecedented political blindness. The Democrats will bring it up again, and force Bush to veto it again, probably several more times in the next year. George W. Bush will now go down in history as the president who was willing to spend any amount of the taxpayer’s money on anything for anyone except health care for kids. Some legacy.

It will be a long time before any GOP candidate will again be able to convince the nation that he represents the party of fiscal responsibility. Meanwhile the Democrats will have loads of fun portraying Republicans as greedy, heartless Scrooges who hate poor kids. I'm not so sure they will be wrong.

Any Republican who still supports this president needs to have his head examined. Bush's arrogance and stupidity have destroyed your party as a viable force for change. Congratulations. Get ready for a long time in the wilderness.


Chelsea said...

Not to excuse the rest of the money he spent, he did twice veto a bill to expand funding for ESC research.

Patrick said...

Good point. Bush has been solid on the life issues, with the exception of allowing the FDA to make Plan B available without a prescription.

Sadly, his monumental foul-ups in other areas practically guarantee the next president will be a Democrat. We will then lose a lot of hard-won ground on ESCR, judges, abstinence programs, etc.