Saturday, September 22, 2007

Suffer the Little Children...

As the cost of the war in Iraq approaches $200 billion a year, President Bush is threatening to veto a bipartisan bill to provide health insurance for children of low-income families because it will cost $12 billion a year rather than the $6 billion he approves.

The added funding would increase the number covered to 10 million from 6.6 and, unlike war costs, would come not from all taxpayers but those who add to health risks with a 61-cent increase in the federal excise tax on a pack of cigarettes.

According to the President, it isn’t the money, it’s the principle of the thing. At his press conference this week, he explained the “philosophical divide.”

“Democratic leaders in Congress,” he said, “want to put more power in the hands of government...I have a different view. I believe the best approach is to put more power in the hands of individuals by empowering people and their doctors to make health care decisions that are right for them.”

The decisions the President is talking about have nothing to do with actual health care--treatments, medications, etc.--only money: Do private insurers keep collecting one out of every three dollars spent for their overhead and profit? Or does Congress bypass them to make health care available for more of the poor?

Next week will provide a reality test for this kind of posturing with the lives of American children. If Bush vetoes the increase, will enough Republicans join in overriding it?

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