Politico again falsely reported that Dems won't compromise on SCHIPOctober 31, 2007 11:38 AM EDT ››› JEREMY HOLDEN
In an October 30 article headlined "New Congress at war over everything," the Politico cited health care as an issue on which Democratic "party leaders have shunned compromise" and cited the congressional debate over expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as part of this purported "storyline." The article reported: "Almost every Democrat, and a large bloc of Republicans, wants to increase spending for the popular program. But Democratic leaders have consistently framed the issue along party lines, arguing Republicans won't spend as much on children." The Politico further reported that when the House of Representatives recently approved a revised SCHIP reauthorization bill by a vote of 265-142 -- less than "the two-thirds needed to override another veto vowed by President Bush" -- "another chance at bipartisan consensus slipped away."
But in asserting that Democrats have "shunned compromise" on this issue, the Politico did not note that an earlier bill expanding SCHIP by $35 billion over five years -- which President Bush vetoed October 3 -- represented a bipartisan compromise. Indeed, House Democrats had initially proposed a bill expanding the program by $50 billion, but it received the support of only five Republicans. As Media Matters for America noted, an October 18 Politico article similarly suggested that Democrats had refused to "come to the negotiating table to forge a bipartisan compromise on" SCHIP.
From the October 30 edition of the Politico:
In a closed-door meeting before the last vote on the children's health care bill, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer appealed for the support of about 30 wavering Republican lawmakers. What he got instead was a tongue-lashing, participants said.
The GOP lawmakers, all of whom had expressed interest in a bipartisan deal on the SCHIP legislation, were furious that the Democratic leader from Maryland had not reached out to them in a more serious way early on. They also criticized him and Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois for failing to stop his allies outside Congress from running attack ads in their districts, while they were discussing a bipartisan deal.
The result was a predictable one for this bitterly divided Congress. The House vote for a second SCHIP bill was a healthy majority, but not the two-thirds needed to override another veto vowed by President Bush. Only one Republican switched his vote -- to oppose the measure.
Democrats accused Republicans of hurting kids. Republicans howled about a heavy-handed, uncompromising Democratic majority. And another chance at bipartisan consensus slipped away.
"They spent $1.5 million through their various shill outreach groups attacking me and a handful of my colleagues," Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.) said before the Hoyer meeting, "but they did not spend five minutes to approach me to ask for my vote."
This us-against-them mentality has been an ongoing storyline of the new Democratic-controlled Congress. On the big items -- Iraq, health care and spending -- party leaders have shunned compromise.
Democrats are under tremendous pressure from liberal activists to take a hard-line approach against everything Bush. Republicans face similar pressure from their own base to stick with the president and prove they are serious about curtailing spending, even if it means less cash for a popular state-run health care program for children not covered by Medicaid.
The SCHIP debate is similar. Almost every Democrat, and a large bloc of Republicans, wants to increase spending for the popular program. But Democratic leaders have consistently framed the issue along party lines, arguing Republicans won't spend as much on children. And some mostly moderate Republicans complained to Hoyer and Emanuel last week that they had not seriously reached out to would-be allies on the other side of the aisle. Now, discussions for a serious compromise are finally underway.