According to an AP article in the N.J. Star-Ledger (9/26/07), the house has passed the latest State Children's Health Insurance Program expansion bill (see my post of 9/08/07) The vote was 265-159. The opponents, all Republicans, have been taking a pounding by Democrats for being "anti-children", etc., with the Dems even using sick children as props to aid in their drive toward socialized medicine.
The tactics have worked as at least 40 Republicans switched their votes to favor this bill (the original vote was 225-204), including, to my dismay, my rep Michael Ferguson. These "moderate" (read "unprincipled") Republicans are in tight races for re-election next year.
The jubilant Democrats, meanwhile, are getting more open about their agenda. Said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, the House's most powerful member, "It hardly matters that the expansion would be expensive or a step toward socialized health care...the question is, Were you with the kids or were you not?" (emphasis added) Thus Rangel has brazenly declared that the rights of parents, patients, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and health clinics, etc. "hardly matter". He and the Dems now assume that the American people have lost the knowledge of what individual rights actually are (mostly true)...that appeals to emotion over logic is a winning political strategy (judging by the cowardly actions of many Republicans, this is also true)...and that a truly principled, intellectual opposition is nowhere to be found.
And with at least 40 Republicans willing to snatch an extra term rather than stand on principle, Rangel is probably right. On what grounds can these GOP congressmen now stand when they face the coming Clinton/Democrat assault on medical freedom? I have seen this before, and it doesn't work. Winning at any cost just paves the way for the opposition while demoralizing your supporters.
The Democrats may be starting to overplay their hand but only a Republican Party willing to risk losing a few seats in the short term by standing up for the free-market principles I thought they stood for can expose it. SCHIP is supposed to be "for the benefit of the children", according to its advocates. But no one who would sacrifice the future freedom and quality of health care of today's children can claim to be their champions. Only those who oppose SCHIP and support free-market reforms and individual rights in medicine are the true champions of children.
President Bush has vowed to veto this bill and when he does, Republicans will be under unrelenting public pressure to over-ride it. Most Americans, not having been given a true alternative, are currently on the side of the Democrats. The Republicans face a defining moment and should seize it by not only opposing the expansion but working to, as Michael F. Cannon of the Cato Institute advocates, call for the end of SCHIP altogether. This will allow them to begin to present a true alternative to the Dem's statist health care agenda.