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October 10, 2007
Debate over SCHIP Extension Gets Nasty
Charges and countercharges are being hurled back and forth between conservative and liberal bloggers of the use of a 12 year old child by Democrats to try and skewer Republicans over the issue of whether the government health insurance program known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) should be extended to middle class families.
It is one of the ugliest dust-ups the blogosphere has seen in a long time.
The imbroglio centers on 12 year old Graeme Frost who gave the Democratic reponse to President Bush's veto of the SCHIP bill two weeks ago. Conservative bloggers began to question the Frost family's eligibility for the program given a wide variety of factors including their living in a house worth around $300,000 and the attendance at private schools by some of the Frost children.
Liberal bloggers shot back by pointing out that the house in question was purchased for $55,000 in the early 90's when the neighborhood was run down and that the Frost kids are getting help from the grandparents as well as the state of Maryland so that the children can attend the private school.
Conservatives accused the Frost's of making selfish choices that didn't include health insurance for their children and that they are asking families who make less than they do to subsidize these choices.
Liberals railed against the heartlessness of conservatives for attacking a 12 year old injured child. Conservatives countered that the family and the Democrats shamelessly used the child as a prop in their political passion play and that questioning the family's assets was fair game because SCHIP doesn't require such a test.
The invective back and forth has been extremely personal - especially on the part of liberal bloggers:
Something has gone wrong on the Right. Become sick and twisted and tumorous and ugly. To visit Michelle Malkin's cave is to see politics at its most savage, its most ferocious, its most rageful. They say they've spent the past week smearing a child and his family because that child was fair game -- he and his family spoke of their experience receiving health care through the State Children's Health Insurance Program.Michelle Malkin, who has been accused of "stalking" the family, defends herself from these accusations:
On Monday, I did something that has everyone from King Kos on down to the dregs (a short traveling distance, to be sure) screaming “Stalker!” What did I do?And she then explains what is at the heart of this debate:
This is not about The Children. It’s about the purported adults in the Democrat party leadership, the left-wing blogosphere, and the sycophantic media who can’t debate policy without flinging their peas when challenged.The New York Times agrees:
But what on the surface appears to be yet another partisan feud, all the nastier because a child is at the center of it, actually cuts to the most substantive debate around S-chip. Democrats say it is crucially needed to help the working poor — Medicaid already helps the impoverished — but many Republicans say it now helps too many people with the means to help themselves.This is the heart of the matter and indeed, the heart of the entire debate over entitlements. In effect, entitlements are a victim of their own success. As fewer and fewer people end up needing entitlements, Democrats seem perfectly willing to shamelessly cater to the middle class who want government programs even if they can afford alternatives.
In the meantime, we as a society seem perfectly willing to give up freedom of choice for a little security and liberty takes another hit. Encroachment by goverment on our freedoms then becomes a matter of choice, not stealth. In this, we are all culpable.
When a family who lives in a house worth nearly $300,000 and owns rental property as well while claiming to be part of the "working poor" becomes eligible for a program targeted at the "needy" what does that tell us about society? Either we are succeeding spectacularly in raising the standard of living of the poor or we are now choosing to simply give entitlements not to those in need but those who want.
When put that way, little Graeme Frost just doesn't matter very much.