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Tuesday, August 21, 2007
(9:07 AM) | Stephen:
Standing On Rock-Solid Principles

Josh Marshall has an interesting post this morning:
When you're stuck down at 30% approval and down to your last 18 months in office, an administration really has to pick and choose its battles. Only real matters of principle are worth a fight. And the Bush administration has found one -- resisting state efforts to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program to more middle income families.
I'd say that the only "principle" involved is the Bush Administration's strategy of opposing every piece of legislation that hasn't been written in the Oval Office, but Josh does make a good rhetorical point.

It never fails to amaze me just how callous GOP politicians can be toward children. I understand all the rhetoric about choices and personal responsibility and blah blah blah. What I don't get is the idea that children should pay for the mistakes of their parents.

This isn't about giving every child a Nintendo Wii and a pony. I fully understand that some families have more than others. What I'd like to see, though, is every child with enough to eat and the ability to see a doctor when it's needed.

Now, I know a lot of conservatives feel that, so long as one has a job of any kind, whatever financial problems one may have can be solved by lifestyle changes. Get a smaller house/apartment. Don't have a car. Eat nothing but ramen noodles, don't ever turn on any lights and get your water from a creek. With that in mind I can see how the Bush Administration would want to resist expansion of the program or institute stricter means testing for new enrollees. And doing so would reduce the cost of the program, which is in line with the Republican principle of fiscal "responsibility" for every program that might in some way benefit someone who is not rich.

But the changes that the Bush Administration is making are simply ridiculous:
Under the new policy, a state seeking to enroll a child whose family earns more than 250 percent of the poverty level -- or $51,625 for a family of four -- must first ensure that the child is uninsured for at least one year. The state must also demonstrate that at least 95 percent of children from families making less than 200 percent of the poverty level have been enrolled in the children's health insurance program or Medicaid -- a sign-up rate that no state has yet managed.
If you have a child and don't have health insurance, every day is stressful. Should your child play sports? What about school recess? A friend of ours had to take their daughter to the hospital recently because she and some friends had decided to go to their basement, tie a rope to the rafter and swing from the basement stairs toward the metal support pole in order to be able to slide down it like a firehouse pole. Somehow this brilliant plan went awry and the girl in question broke her arm.

Kids do these things. It's not even wrong. Let's face it: human beings are all enrolled in the school of hard knocks because we are rarely able to learn any other way. Given that two kids plucked at random are going to be pretty much the same in the way that they sometimes use good judgment and sometimes rather poor judgment, why should one kid be punished simply because her parents don't make as much money as the other kid's folks?


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