Bull-SCHIP: WSJ Takes Yet Another Swipe at the Center-Right Blogosphere

In the midst of a Wall Street Journal editorial today about proponents' misrepresentations relating to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage, cost, and financing (characterized as "fiscal fraudulence"), the Journal took shots at blogs that have questioned the SCHIP eligibiliy of Graeme Frost, the 12-year-old boy the Democrats used to deliver a two-minute rebuttal to President Bush's veto of legislation that would vastly expand the program.

The Journal's criticisms of SCHIP expansion and the Democrats' overheated rhetoric after the veto are, on substance, very solid:

After President Bush vetoed Congress's major expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, Nancy Pelosi declared: "President Bush used his cruel veto pen to say, 'I forbid 10 million children from getting the health benefits they deserve.'" As far as political self-parody goes, that one ought to enter the record books.

It's wrong on the facts, for one, which Speaker Pelosi knows. ..... The Schip bill was not some all-or-nothing proposition: A continuing resolution fully funds the program through mid-November, so none of the 6.6 million recipients will lose coverage.

The 10 million children that Ms. Pelosi cites are the sum of the current enrollees plus those who could join under the Democratic plan (which also has the support of some wayward Republicans). Never mind that up to 60% of these children already have private insurance, which Schip would displace as it moves up the income scale. Only by Beltway reasoning could "not expanding" count as "denying" public assistance. Hillary Clinton went further and said the President was actively "stealing" health care from needy kids.

..... Despite their howls about "the children," Democrats and their media partners are happy to milk them for political gain.

The Journal then turns oddly indulgent of the Democrats' political gamesmanship, and unjustifiably impatient with those who called it out:

Unfortunately, that narrative was bolstered this week by some conservative bloggers. After the Schip veto, Democrats chose a 12-year-old boy named Graeme Frost to deliver a two-minute rebuttal. While that was a political stunt, the Washington habit of employing "poster children" is hardly new. But the Internet mob leapt to some dubious conclusions and claimed the Frost kids shouldn't have been on Schip in the first place.

As it turns out, they belonged to just the sort of family that a modest Schip is supposed to help. One lesson from this meltdown is the limit of argument by anecdote.

"Meltdown"? "Just the sort of family that a modest Schip is supposed to help"?

Within 15 minutes of the editorial's 12:01 a.m. Saturday publication, Michelle Malkin recounted just a few of the reasons why the Frosts' eligibility for a properly-designed SCHIP is at best dubious, and at worst, theft from taxpayers:

To review quickly: We are now “meanies,” “hypocrites,” “slimers,” and “mobsters” for challenging the wisdom of taking money away from taxpayers of lesser means who are responsible enough to buy insurance before a catastrophic event in order to subsidize two-property, three-car families with four children in private schools and two parents who work “intermittently” and “part-time” who didn’t have the foresight or priorities to purchase insurance before a tragic auto accident.

And they call our conclusions “dubious?”

The properties the Frosts have acknowledged they own are currently worth at least $400,000. The three vehicles identified by Malkin are a Volvo SUV, a GMC Suburban, and a Ford F250 pickup truck. If all were new at the time of purchase, the Frosts would likely have had to pay at least $100,000 for all three. The degree to which the Frosts have borrowed against their properties is not known, and the family "oddly" declined to show their tax returns (fourth paragraph at link) to the Baltimore Sun.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's statehealthfacts.org web site (reviewed in the "Update for Mind-Boggling Detail" at the end of this post), 46 states and the District of Columbia do not have an asset test for SCHIP.

Despite the Journal's objections, it remains fair to ask whether the Frosts should be eligible, as they are, for even the current version of SCHIP. It remains reasonable to question why a program with apparently serious design flaws that allow a family with possibly substantial assets and net worth should be expanded before those design flaws are fixed. More fundamentally, it is more than fair to question whether a program advertised to the public as health care for children of the "working poor," which already "somehow" covers hundreds of thousands of adults (over 100,000 in Michigan alone), should be expanded into the heart of the middle class, and beyond.

As to the antagonism the Journal is directing towards center-right blogs, I can't help but think that its editorial board is still carrying a grudge over how the attempt to pass a "comprehensive immigration bill" (known as "Shamnesty" to opponents) turned out this summer, and how during the runup to its rejection, the paper's ongoing 23-year romance with "There shall be open borders" was exposed by center-right bloggers.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com and the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Wide Open blog.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.