The WaPo’s Christopher Lee noted recently, “If anything looked like a sure thing in the new Congress, it was that lawmakers would renew, and probably expand, the popular, decade-old State Children’s Health Insurance Program before it expires this year.” It’s a no-brainer, right? Who’s going to balk at an established, successful program that offers health insurance for kids?
As it turns out, the president is. Is it because he doesn’t think the program works? No, the administration acknowledges that S-CHIP works well. Is it because it’s fiscally irresponsible? No, it’s fairly inexpensive. Bush’s opposition is entirely, by his own admission, ideological. The program offends his philosophy of government.
Today, Paul Krugman takes him to task.
It’s not because [Bush] thinks the plans wouldn’t work. It’s because he’s afraid that they would. That is, he fears that voters, having seen how the government can help children, would ask why it can’t do the same for adults. [...]
There are arguments you can make against programs, like Social Security, that provide a safety net for adults. I can respect those arguments, even though I disagree. But denying basic health care to children whose parents lack the means to pay for it, simply because you’re afraid that success in insuring children might put big government in a good light, is just morally wrong.
So much for compassionate conservatism.