Overriding the SCHIP veto is a battle that should stir our souls. I know that the issue is complicated. There are graphs involved. But as economic issues go, this one really isn't too tough to master. If you want some encouragement, I'm here to tell you: I've mastered it because I had to for work and if I can be an SCHIP wonk, honey, you can be an SCHIP wonk. If you want to get up to speed on the ins and outs quickly, use the resources available at the Center for Budget Policy and Priority.
My CBPP hit parade includes:
So, very informative but not exactly soul-stirring. Your soul should stir when you realize that this SCHIP fight is the most naked and aggressive salvo in the American Class War that we've ever seen.* We just saw the president strutting around a stage in Lancaster, PA telling us that a family making $83,000/year doesn't deserve help with health insurance bills. Does not deserve help. Did anyone else fall over when they saw that? I've seen him tell us that he doesn't care where Osama bin Laden is. I've seen him tell us that he doesn't care to know how many Iraqis we've killed. I've heard him tell us that his job is to catapult propaganda. I've watched him tell a woman that it's great that she works three jobs. But I have never seen him kick the American middle class in the head quite so obviously.
Inevitably, we're now seeing the Right, who know how to fight in lockstep with Dear Leader and on the dog-eat-dog ground they love, position a family that earns $45,000 a year as the new Cadillac-driving Welfare Queen made popular in the 80's by You Know Who.
And speaking of those good old days, it's getting more clear every day that the GOP will be doing its best to run the Spirit of St. Ronny in '08. Forget finding a body to house the ghost for now, they're working on the message and they think they've got a winner:
But he [golden boy Rep. Adam Putnam (FL-12)] and other Republicans say they eventually can turn the issue to their advantage by making the case that Democrats are spending too much, taking a first step toward national health care and devoting tax money to coverage for some families who can afford insurance. They contend their stance could have special resonance with conservatives unhappy with the recent Republican reluctance to resist popular spending programs.
“If this was October of next year, I’d be really worried,” said Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the second-ranking House Republican. “But this is October of this year and the beginning of us getting our credibility back by showing that we are willing to take principled stands on spending.”
They are going to reclaim their credibility on the wreckage of the middle class because that's got "special resonance." Someone on the our side should be
talking screaming about polling numbers that show that when it comes to this issue, not undefined spending, the country is firmly in the Dems' camp with 63% agreeing that the $35B compromise spending on SCHIP to provide affordable health insurance to uninsured children is a good idea. That's because people who are victims of the Class War - and are the targets of the GOP - know that something isn't right and that the cost of health insurance is the issue that they can grab onto as Exhibit A through G.
Soul stirred yet? Make no mistake; this fight to overturn BushCo's veto of a compromise bill that helps the poor and middle class is at least as important as the fight to stop the dismantling of Social Security. That's true not only because of the number of families the compromise SCHIP bill will help but also because the right is so willing to pin a lot of their Class War hopes on it.
The battle for the compromise SCHIP bill is the fight of the year and the Democrats, who plan to keep sending the same bill back to the White House until it's signed, need help winning it. Knowing this, enemies of SCHIP and of working Americans are already throwing around a gigantic wedge by claiming that the compromise will allow children here illegally to use SCHIP. That's a lie and, of course, they don't care. They only care that the lie will distract voters from the real target, which is every working American. Given enough time, that strategy may work.
So if you blog, blog about the bi-partisan, compromise SCHIP bill and tell your readers - and your friends and family - to call their members of Congress today and every day until it's passed. I'm aware that it's a crummy, inadequate compromise bill that doesn't address the Medicare Overpayment boondoggle. I'm aware that writing and speaking about federal spending is a heavy lift. But the stakes are immeasurably higher than even the 10 million kids who need insurance and the other side of the fight is counting on us to be too interested in sexier issues to get our message out there.
* Yes, the attack on Social Security is built along these lines, but they're hidden. The push to dismantle Social Security is unfailingly and dishonestly (natch) positioned as one against the undeserving elderly and one in which the middle class is saved from the government, which prevents them from being the millionaire investor tycoons they were born to be. Also, I'm sure historians can point to the Great Middle Class Shaming Act of 1887 or something similar. I'm not an historian.