Lawmakers negotiated and held press conferences ahead of Thursday’s vote on overriding President Bush’s veto of a $35-billion expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The Senate passed the measure with a veto-proof majority, but the House is two dozen votes short. Leading Democrats are trying to tweak the bill’s language—by, say, specifically banning undocumented immigrants from receiving benefits—to lure a few more House Republicans to their side.
What the commentators said
This controversy is about “the purpose of government,” said The Boston Globe in an editorial (free registration). President Bush spent a fortune engineering the tax code to favor rich people. What’s wrong with some careful initiatives to “make life better for people who weren’t much helped by the tax cuts”?
Bush is in favor of a reasonable expansion of this program to help poor families, said The Washington Times in an editorial. But Democrats want to turn it into a gigantic “new middle- and upper-class entitlement.” Polls show Americans are starting to “see past” the “rhetoric about ‘the children,’” and demand that those who aren’t really needy pay for their own insurance.
It’s time for “both sides to compromise,” said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial. Bush wants the program to cover families making up to 200 percent of the poverty level, and Democrats want it to reach people 300 percent above the poverty line. Split the difference. That way, families earning more than $50,000 a year could still qualify, but Congress would have to “back off from moving the program deeper into the middle class.”
“A country without universal coverage isn’t conservative. It’s primitive,” said Froma Harrop in The Providence Journal.