Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A "Heartless Veto"?

"Never has it been clear how detached President Bush is from the priorities of the American people," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried, D-Nev.

That was in response to President Bush's latest veto, only the fourth in his presidency. The bipartisan bill would have expanded children's health insurance for millions of low-income kids in America. The Senate had already said yes to the bill, raking in enough votes to override the veto, but the House put a halt to that.

The President didn't veto the State Children's Health Insurance Program; he denied the 35 million dollars in funding Congress had asked for. The program is a state-federal joint effort that provides subsidized health coverage for more than 6 million Americans, most of them children. The program helps families who can't afford their own private insurance, but who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Congress had support from Republicans to pass legislation that would provide $35 billion in additional funding to the program. That money would span over five years and add some 4 million children into the program. The funding was to come from the federal cigarette tax, but passing the legislation would have meant increasing the tax on cigarettes from 61 cents to a $1 per pack.

Presdient Bush says $35 billion is too much and only wanted a $5 billion increase in funding. Bush argued the program would have been too costly and would steer people with private insurance to switch to governemnt coverage. A move he says would be "a move toward socialized medicine."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried called President Bush's decision a "heartless veto."

So what's at stake for the President after vetoing this bill? Critics say it pits him against not only Democrats who now control Congress, but Republicans too.