Flames of the Torch

Just over a week ago, President Bush vowed to veto a bill seeking to expand a health insurance plan for children. The Children’s Health Insurance Program is both a state and federal leveled initiative that aims at providing health coverage to low-income families that make at least $51,600. These families are not eligible to meet the requirements of Medicaid and cannot, in their wildest dreams, pay enough for private health coverage.
The President still seems adamant about vetoing this bill, even though the program expired on September 30. In his weekly radio address, President Bush stated that the Democrats were “irresponsible” and were “risking health coverage for poor children purely to make a political point.”

Despite President Bush’s anti-Democrat rhetoric, the bill has support on both sides of the aisle in Congress. Lawmakers from President Bush’s own party are ardent supporters of the program. One example is Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who usually sides with the President and his administration over many issues. Prior to voting on the bill on the Senate floor, Hatch stated, “It’s very difficult for me to be against a man I care so much for. It’s unfortunate that the President has chosen to be on what, to me, is clearly the wrong side of this issue.”
The reason why the White House is against such a measure is that it believes the program is too costly, raises “unfair” taxes, and takes a step towards federalizing the health care system by bringing already-insured children under coverage of the government.

However, the President fails to realize, as is argued by the overwhelming amount of supporters in both parties, that the true spirit of the program is to provide coverage to millions of children who are not insured.

The program will be funded by cigarette taxes that raise the tax of a pack from 61 cents to a dollar. This way, the ones who will truly benefit from it would be the children in the lowest-income families.

Governor Ed Rendell (Democrat) of Pennsylvania noted, “If the President is serious about market solutions to our health care crisis, he should be expanding, not cutting back, the public-private partnership that has made health care insurance affordable for thousands of Pennsylvania children.”

It is remarkable that the President is so concerned with tax increases for cigarettes, yet billions are continually being spent on the Iraq war. A necessity such as the health insurance program for children is strapped to the back seat while Americans have become increasingly fed up with a war that many believe is unnecessary.

As President Bush is expected to veto the bill today, he will, in fact, be leaving many children behind with the strike of his pen.