When politicians lie ‘for the kids’

Let’s revise the old saw about knowing when politicians lie. Instead of “when his lips are moving,” it should be “when he says it’s ‘for the kids.’”

Exhibit A is the debate on reauthorizing the State Childrens Health Insurance Program. This Clinton administration creation provides tax-paid health insurance for families earning up to 200 percent of the official poverty level but who aren’t covered by Medicaid. SCHIP originated as “Kids First,” the backup plan to the Hillarycare monstrosity of 1993. The Clintonistas calculated that, if Hillarycare’s complete socialization of U.S. health care was rejected, their fallback position was a long march to the same end, starting with Kids First.

As usual, spineless Republicans in Congress approved a watered-down version of the Kids First program — hence the SCHIP acronym — in 1997. They should have instead passed a consumer-choice system guaranteeing access for everybody to private health insurance, then dared Hillary’s hubby to veto it. Now that Democrats control Congress, they want to double SCHIP spending and cover families making up to 400 percent of the poverty baseline. This would put up to three-fourths of all families under a government-run health care program, marking a major step toward Hillarycare’s original goal.

Democrats should fess up that their real goal is to socialize American medicine. Then they won’t have to hide behind such transparent falsehoods as Rep. Frank Pallone’s “this is not an expansion of the program.” As chairman of a House health subcommittee, the New Jersey Democrat knows full well that “expansion” is exactly the right term to describe his party’s SCHIP proposal. They should also admit they’ve spun their budget projections to conceal the fact they will have to raise taxes to pay for their proposal, regardless if they ultimately go with the House Democrats’ $50 billion expansion or the $60 billion hike being debated this week in the Senate. Senate Democrats in particular are blowing smoke by claiming they can pay for their SCHIP expansion with a new tax on tobacco products.

Finally, wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear something besides the usual green-eyeshade GOP offer of a token budget increase — $5 billion in this case — while threatening to veto a far more generous Democratic proposal? For a change, why don’t Bush and the Republicans say something like this: “Let’s get government out of our doctors’ offices and give every American family a tax credit so they — not some Washington bureaucrat — can decide what health insurance works best for them.” Do that now and in a few years, SCHIP will be Hillarycare history.

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