NPR's Simon falsely asserted that SCHIP began "under a Republican president"October 29, 2007 12:08 PM EDT ››› JEREMY HOLDEN
During a discussion on October 27 of President Bush's threat to veto a bill expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), National Public Radio Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon said in reference to a comment by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): "The president vetoed the last one, but lawmakers said they've made some important changes to the bill, which, as Senator McConnell often reminds interviewers, began as a program under a Republican president." In fact, in a September 27 statement, McConnell credited a Republican Congress -- not, as Simon said, a Republican president. Indeed, while SCHIP was created in 1997, when Republicans held a majority in both houses of Congress, President Clinton pushed for the expansion of children's health care coverage and signed the program, included in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, into law.
When Clinton signed the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 on August 5, 1997, he said, "First, it strengthens our families by extending health insurance coverage to up to 5 million children. By investing $24 billion, we will be able to provide quality medical care for these children -- everything from regular check-ups to major surgery." Clinton added: "I want every child in America to grow up healthy and strong, and this investment takes a major step toward that goal."
In his February 1997 State of the Union address, Clinton said, "Ten million children still lack health insurance -- 80 percent of them have working parents who pay taxes. That is wrong. My balanced budget will extend health coverage to up to 5 million of those children."
From the October 27 edition of National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Saturday:
DANIEL SCHORR (senior news analyst): Yes.
SIMON: The president vetoed the last one, but lawmakers said they've made some important changes to the bill, which, as Senator McConnell often reminds interviewers, began as a program under a Republican president. Now, President Bush says that he'll veto this version in any case. He's concerned it extends coverage to people who don't need it, drives up the price. If Democrats along with Republican supporters of the bill and Mr. Bush are at an impasse, does this create a political problem for both parties?
SCHORR: Not in equal measure. I think that the Republicans have more of a problem than the Democrats do. This is a wildly popular program of trying to take care of kids, and now they want to add another 4 million kids, say, only because they are on the margin between poverty and not poverty, and it's generally supported everywhere, so that the Republicans will have to maneuver between the White House and the Congress.
The Democrats are in a position to say, "Well, either you're going to veto this, or we'll give you another one every two weeks." As long as the issue is alive and on the front pages, it really works for Democrats and not for Republicans.
SIMON: Did Democrats leave themselves open at some point to the charge that they're playing politics and not actually getting a bill done?
SCHORR: Anytime that someone seems to have an advantage, the other side will always say he's playing politics.