S-CHIP Veto: Leaving Children Behind on Health

NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr laments President Bush's coming veto of the children's health bill. Schorr says he can't understand how anyone can keep healthcare from children.

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Congress is working on a series of spending bills, and President Bush is threatening to use his veto power if lawmakers exceed his domestic spending requests. Mr. Bush's tough stance has caught the attention of NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

DANIEL SCHORR: President Bush may be savoring his victory over Congress last week. The only measure to emerge from Congress was a Senate resolution condemning the Move On organization for the rather tasteless newspaper ad punning on the name of General Petraeus to read: Betray Us.

This week, Mr. Bush strides across the political stage as Mr. No. At the United Nations, it is climate change week, and the president is resisting any effort to set mandatory national goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

At home this week, it's the end of a fiscal year. And the president, with apparent relish, is letting it be known that he's ready to veto any number of the 12 spending bills necessary to run the government past September 30th if they exceed his budget limits.

Perhaps as dramatic as any of the expected veto showdowns, concerns the program called S-CHIP, which provides health insurance for children who can't afford it. Administered in partnership with the states, it covers 6.6 million children. Congress proposes to renew the program with an additional $35 billion over four years to enroll four million more children. President Bush says, no, it's a step towards federalization of health care. Federalized health care may be all right for him and for all of Congress, but not for four million near-poor children.

It's getting pretty tensed as the September 30th deadline approaches. This widely popular bill is one on which Congress may well override a presidential veto. Maybe there will be a stopgap resolution - continuing the program at current levels, pending further negotiations.

While the argument between Congress and the president goes on, I am frankly astonished that the president who wants to leave no child behind in education is willing to leave four million children behind in health care.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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