“Ultimately, our nation’s goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage, not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage.”

President Bush vetoed legislation Wednesday that would have expanded government-provided health insurance for children … Bush vetoed the bill in private.

Funny, the things that man does in private. If this is such a big deal, do it publicly. Let us all know about it. Let the debate form around the actions of the Executive and Legislative branches.

In a statement notifying Congress of his decision, Bush said the bill was unacceptable because – like the first one – it allows adults into the program, would cover people in families with incomes above the U.S. median and raises taxes.

“This bill does not put poor children first, and it moves our country’s health care system in the wrong direction,” Bush’s statement said. “Ultimately, our nation’s goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage, not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage.”

The House voted 211-180 late Wednesday to put off until Jan. 23 a vote on overriding the president’s veto. “We are not going to let this veto stand,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Republicans said Democrats were scheduling the veto override vote to coincide with the week Bush comes to Congress for the State of the Union address.

As another thing gets not done by the government. Two things of note: First, the more-or-less grown-up part.

A major point of contention with the White House was Bush’s demand that nearly all poor children eligible for the program be found and enrolled before any in slightly higher-income families could be covered. He originally proposed adding $5 billion to the program over five years but later said he was willing to go higher as long as his conditions were met.

The president also has opposed using an increased tobacco tax to fund the program expansion. The bill includes a 61-cent rise on a package of cigarettes.

Then, the less grown-up part.

In his veto statement, Bush said: “The leadership in the Congress has refused to meet with my administration’s representatives.” White House press secretary Dana Perino said that “even on a staff level, we weren’t invited to negotiate.”

“They’ve instead been intransigent and sent us two bills that they knew he wouldn’t sign,” she scoffed.

Not so, said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

For instance, Reid approached Bush to ask for negotiations during a ceremony for the Dalai Lama in the Capitol Rotunda in mid-October, a couple of weeks after Bush’s first SCHIP veto, he said. The president told Reid, “No, I’m not moving, meet with my staff,” Reid said at the time.

“The fact is that Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi asked to meet with the president to discuss giving children the health care they need, and he blew them off by telling them to talk to his staff,” Manley said before the veto. “Now he’s going to veto it for a second time without negotiating once.”

God bless tax dollars at work. Of Bush’s objections, the second is the same one I listed for this plan being a bad one the first time. The first one looks, to me, more than anything else a jade’s trick to ensure that the programme can be criticised: identify the poorest people first? Do these people pursue inefficiency actively, or were they all just born with pieces of their brain missing?

Apropos the original quote, and the lengthy title of this piece. The nation’s goal should be none of these things. The nation’s goal should not include child health insurance: it should be child health. Why not just toss the insurance bullshit aside and stop inventing lucrative legislation for the (private) primary care industry in the US? Build an SCHIP/Medicaid/Medicare hospital in every major city. Fill it with appropriately paid, appropriately (i.e. not, necessarily, fee-for-service) incentivised staff, and tell every concession card holder that they can have free treatment at this hospital.

Is it free market? Of course not. Health care isn’t supposed to be. If poor people were as good at identifying optimal resource allocation in terms of healthcare and education, they probably wouldn’t be poor people. The government’s job is supposed to be to act as agent for the people who gave it the job – not as agent for the people profiting from the bad job they do while there.

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2 comments so far

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    Iraq ‘progressed’ to becoming the third most corrupt country on the planet in this president’s tenure. The V.P. was a major shareholder in Halliburton, which profited immensely from irregular contracting practices by them and the government both. Not to mention Bush holding commercial interests in war profiteers.
    I suggest Bushco have a different appreciation of opportunity than the one you ‘suppose’ proper.

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