Executive Director's Column
October 4, 2007
Children’s Health Insurance Bill (SCHIP)
Bush Veto/Strong Reaction/Override Urged
President Bush has vetoed the Children’s Health Insurance Bill. Conference President Douglas H. Palmer has issued a strong statement criticizing the President and urging Congress to override the veto.
President Bush had 18 Senators of his own party voting against him, 45 members of the House voted against the President, 43 Governors urged him not to veto and they will help us with the attempt to override the veto now set for October 18. To win, we need to change 19 votes.
On the Senate side, Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa stated after the veto that he had tried to work with the White House on signing the children’s insurance bill, but Grassley termed the Administration’s stance as “my way or the highway.” Senator Grassley went on to say he will be on the phone and seeking meetings with House members who voted with President Bush for the purpose of changing their minds. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said the President is getting “some pretty bad advice” on this legislation.
Critics have pointed out that President Bush has raised the debt limit since 2002 five times, and added three trillion to our debt limit over that same period. He has borrowed more money than all other Presidents before him. Critics have also observed that President Bush is not prone to veto, only four since he took office, and yet late in his Administration President Bush has decided to veto this bill for our children and thus deny four million more low income children health insurance.
Some have also observed that without health insurance, children have to go to emergency rooms. Without insurance they can’t get antibiotics. They go to school or kindergarten sick and they get other kids sick, and they may all end up with pneumonia and in the long run cost us a lot more. Supporters of this legislation state that it costs only $3.50 a day to provide the insurance for each child. And they also argue that $3.50 a day is well worth it because it will pay for preventive drugs to ward off more serious illnesses and more medical costs.
Supporters of the legislation also say that the charge that the SCHIP program is socialism did not prevent those same members from supporting this program that was originally established under Speaker Newt Gingrich, not exactly a socialist. Further, they argue the Republican Congress or “The Contract with America House of Representatives” were not a socialist body.
Further, there is the comparison of what is spent on the Iraq War. Ten weeks in Iraq is the total cost of the SCHIP program. Again, the cost for one child is $3.50 a day. And the war is costing us $275 million a day. The President also is charged with giving tax breaks to the rich and saying “no” to a bipartisan bill that would provide millions of eligible children health insurance.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the House floor expressing disappointment, stating that the entire amount in the bill totals 41 days of the Iraq war. She thanked the 45 House members who joined her side of the aisle, and urged others to come her way to override the veto.
In the next two weeks, all groups will activate a grass roots effort to change minds and to override the Bush veto. Polls indicate 71 percent of the American people support this bill.
For the next two weeks, there will be an effort from Americans to change the vote of those members who voted no. We will urge them to vote to override the veto.
We have strong policy on this issue. Conference President Palmer is urging all mayors, Democrats, Independents and Republicans, to help us in our goal to override.
This week, I had a business and strategy lunch with Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, on this matter. Mayor Palmer invited her last January to speak to all assembled as we pushed hard for a children’s health insurance bill to insure all children. She was most appreciative of the mayoral effort we have amassed under the Conference of Mayors banner for our children. Together, Children’s Defense Fund Founder and President Marian Wright Edelman and Conference of Mayors President Doug Palmer are standing up for children. And so many of you have stood with them. They need your help more than ever now. Urge all members to support the override of this veto and together we will do what must be done for our children.
USCM Climate Protection Summit, Seattle, November 1-2
We continue to register mayors for one of the most fantastic meetings in recent history. Come to Seattle November 1 and 2. Join with 100 mayors, experts, best practitioners to learn more about what other cities are doing about climate protection and share with us what your city is doing.
Conference President Palmer and Host Mayor Greg Nickels urge you to be there. As mentioned earlier, President Bill Clinton and New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg are keynote speakers. Contact Carol Edwards, Meetings and Conventions Director, at 202-293-7330, to register now. You don’t want to miss this one!