What happened
President Bush assigned several top advisers to start negotiating a new deal on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Democrats remained about 15 votes short on Thursday as they headed into an attempt to override Bush’s veto of a $35 billion expansion of the program. Bush has proposed a $5 billion increase.

What the commentators said
President Bush vetoed this bill “for all the right reasons,” said the Manchester, N.H., Union-Leader in an editorial, and Congress should back him up. The $35-billion expansion Democrats want would turn a health insurance program for poor children into a vehicle for “government-subsidized health-care for middle-class families.” In a nation that hasn’t figured out how to cover Social Security checks for baby boomers, creating another massive entitlement makes no sense.

Actually, expanding this program makes perfect financial sense, said The Denver Post in an editorial. “Healthier children make healthier adults. They do better in school. They fare better in life.” And when children are insured, their “minor illnesses can be treated before they become major and costly,” and their parents won’t be forced to take them to already “overburdened” emergency rooms for every sniffle.

The House vote was always a foregone conclusion, said Walter Shapiro in Salon.com. There just were never enough votes to override Bush’s veto. But this is only a “reprieve” for Bush and the GOP as the health war begins. The Democrats saw the SCHIP expansion as “a backdoor route to universal coverage,” and “their shimmering goal remains health insurance for everyone.”