Last week, I scolded the Democrats for sending a 12-year-old to make their argument for S-CHIP expansion rather than making it themselves. This week, it might be the NEA protesting a new indirect voucher program. It turns out that the spokesboy for the Democrats goes to an expensive private school, lives in a 3000-square-foot house, and all of this gets subsidized by federal assistance:
1. Graeme and his sister Gemma attend the Park School, a private school that costs $20,000 per child.
2. Brown wrote that the family lives on $45,000 per year, but icwhatudo notes: "Halsey Frost has owned his own company 'Frostworks' since...1992 so he chooses to not give himself insurance. He also employed his wife as 'bookkeeper and operations management' prior to her recent 2007 hire at the 'medical publishing firm.'"
3. His business is housed in a $160,000 building -- that he owns.
4. The Frost family lives in a recently remodeled 3,000-square-foot home that cost $485,000.
So what this amounts to is a school voucher system for the middle class. The Frosts can affort to spend $20,000 per year on private-school tuition because they don't have to spend money on health insurance for their children. That allows them a better break than urban students get, because under S-CHIP as it was originally conceived, the health insurance subsidies allowed the family to spend money on frivolities like food and utilities.
This demonstrates the absurdity of expanding programs like S-CHIP into the middle class. Children in homes like the Frost's don't lack insurance coverage out of a lack of opportunity or resources, but from the choices made by their parents. Freedom entails making choices and living with the consequences. It certainly doesn't entail subsidizing poor decisions, or in this particular case, taking money from primarily lower-income workers who smoke to subsidize health insurance for kids who go to expensive private schools.
If we had school vouchers, the Frosts could afford both private education and health care, because their tax dollars would not go to the education monopoly owned by the government. It would also allow poorer families to have access to the kind of private education that the Frost children receive, forcing public schools to improve to meet the competition. The same holds true for the coming monopoly in health care, if the Democrats who support this Trojan horse S-CHIP expansion get their way.
And speaking of competition, how did the mainstream news media fail to discover the true financial status of the Frosts, which was the entire basis for the public argument made in favor of S-CHIP expansion? (via Power Line and Instapundit)
UPDATE: A word on the supposed "smear" that conservatives have applied to the Frosts, as Michelle Malkin notes about the pushback on the Democrats' attempt to make this family the poster case for S-CHIP. If they want to nutpick some of the comments in this thread, they might have a point. So far, I've seen vague accusations of organized crime and other oddities in this thread aimed at the Frosts with no evidence whatsoever. People need to get a grip and stop speculating. The facts speak for themselves.
However, if they refer to the financial standing of the Frosts, that's no smear -- it's an answer to the argument made by the Democrats. They had the Frosts pose as a typical family that needs S-CHIP to make ends meet. I think it's quite germane that this family made choices like purchasing a 3,000-square-foot house and commitments to expensive private schools ahead of that health insurance coverage. This is a means-tested entitlement, and the level of means has everything to do with the debate. Most people I know don't live in houses of that size regardless of how many children they have, and most people who require federal subsidies don't own their own businesses and investment properties. Including people with those assets in a federal subsidies program pretty much makes means testing pointless.
The Democrats chose the Frosts, not their conservative critics. If they chose poorly, that reflects on S-CHIP, too.