Congress this week is acting to reauthorize SCHIP—the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health insurance for 6 million poor children. Congress also plans to expand the program to cover 4 million additional poor children.
The public couldn’t be more supportive judging from data collected in August by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. As the chart below shows, 77 percent of voters say they favor reauthorizing SCHIP for five years, even if it costs $39 billion, compared to just 18 percent who are opposed. It’s also worth noting how broad this support is in partisan terms: 64 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of independents, and 86 percent of Democrats favor the program.
Voters—by a margin of more than 2:1, or 63 percent to 31 percent—also favor expanding SCHIP to cover 4 million more uninsured children at a cost of $35 million.
Of course, in the upside-down world of President Bush, a wildly popular initiative that would also do loads of good—say SCHIP reauthorization and expansion—can only mean one thing—time to veto!
Unfortunately, his veto may be enough to stop the legislation, despite its popularity. But Bush will likely pay a political price for his actions. Here’s what the public thinks of Bush’s veto plans:
Remarkably, for an administration that’s flatly unpopular these days, they appear close to indifferent to the public will. On the SCHIP issue, they may live to regret that indifference.
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