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Friday, September 28, 2007

Congress' SCHIP Deception

When it comes to SCHIP, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) is shocked by the behavior of certain Republicans:
The Beltway political class is shocked that President Bush and his dwindling Republican allies are opposing the Democratic expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. That consensus, as usual, has it backwards. What ought to be shocking is how many Republicans have surrendered or been accomplices in this latest expansion of government health care.
But more interesting is the deception.

The Democratic Congressional leadership, and a handful of allied Republicans, claim the SCHIP expansion they seek will cost "only" $35 billion dollars. It won't.

As the Wall Street Journal explains:
...there's a budget sleight-of-hand. Known as a "funding cliff," the yearly SCHIP layout increases to $13.9 billion in 2011, then abruptly cuts spending by 65% below current funding levels. This helps "score" the bill as costing only $35 billion over the five-year budget window, but it also means that come 2012 Congress will either have to pass new spending or kick kids off the rolls. The chances of the latter happening are approximately zero, and GOP Senators Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch should be embarrassed for going along with this confidence trick.
Why are certain Republicans going for this? The Journal thinks it knows:
Many Republicans are focused on short-term PR, while even groups that ought to know better, like America's Health Insurance Plans (the insurance industry lobby) and PhRMA (the drug makers' lobby), have endorsed the SCHIP expansion. These big business lobbies are once again selling out taxpayers to appease Democrats, who will go after them next in any case.

But most of the blame falls on Senate Republicans, particularly Messrs. Grassley and Hatch. These leaders on the Finance Committee created the facade of "bipartisanship" by signing off on the Democratic plan, whatever its policy results. To adapt Lenin, Republicans are making the rope that will be used to hang them...
Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg, The Corner
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:45 PM

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