USA Today has polled Americans on the Democratic proposal to extend S-CHIP subsidies to middle-class families -- and the results bode ill for the bill's proponents. A majority of Americans support George Bush's veto, and an even larger majority believes it will undermine private health insurance altogether:
A majority of Americans trust Democrats to handle the issue of children's health insurance more than President Bush, but they agree with the president that government aid should not go to middle-income families or those with private insurance, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.
Three days before the Democratic-controlled House attempts to override Bush's veto of a five-year, $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the poll shows that Americans' opinions on the issue are mixed.
Of those polled, 52% said they have more confidence in Democrats to deal with the issue, compared with 32% for Bush. But majorities also supported two positions at the core of the president's opposition:
Democrats have gone on a full-court press to get this legislation passed, and then to get the veto overridden. They have used two families as fronts for the expansion, even though the children of both families qualified for S-CHIP prior to their expansion. They are running ads even now, showing toddlers with large, staring eyes, that claim "George Bush vetoed Susie," and so on.
And they have lost the argument. Despite Bush's low polling numbers and their political advantage on domestic policy, the Democrats have not convinced Americans to subsidize health insurance for middle-class families. In fact, the USA Today poll used the less-outrageous annual income limit of $62,000 for the description of the expansion (some have it at $83,000), and Democrats still lose, 52%-40%. It isn't even close.
The Democrats will attempt to override Bush's veto later this week, but this should put the final nail in the coffin for S-CHIP. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid intended on pressuring Republicans into voting for override by threatening them with targeted attacks in the 2008 election on the issue. Now it looks like the Republicans have an issue somewhat akin to HillaryCare, a vast overreach on health insurance with which they can batter Democrats as fiscally irresponsible and pandering. With numbers like these, the Democrats will have trouble holding onto the Republicans they had in the first place, let alone picking up any converts.
UPDATE: Bruce Kesler notices the failure of the Democrats, too.