October 23, 2007

Dems Get SCHIPpy About War Funding

The Democrats have refused to consider another supplemental funding bill for the Iraq war effort until after the first of the year. They want the extra time in order to figure out how best to force the administration into a withdrawal the Democrats don’t have the courage to initiate themselves through complete defunding. The argument even started with a non-sequitur on S-CHIP:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) derided the war funding bill as an example of "misplaced priorities," pointing to Bush's veto of a five-year, $35 billion expansion of a children's health program. "For the cost of less than 40 days in Iraq, we could provide health-care coverage to 10 million children for an entire year," she said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) echoed that line of attack on Bush. "He repeatedly says no to health care, no to law enforcement, no to homeland security, no to stronger infrastructure," Reid said at a news conference. "But he says yes to this intractable civil war in Iraq, which is being paid for by borrowed money."

White House spokesman Tony Fratto rejected the comparison with the State Children's Health Insurance Program, saying Bush wants only to make sure it focuses on poorer children and the vetoed bill would have covered families with too much income. "The president has said that the policy is wrong," Fratto said. "He didn't say that it's too expensive."

There's a nugget of humor in the Bush administration refusing to acknowledge expenses, but I'll leave that alone for the moment. At Heading Right, however, I refuse to ignore the fact that the Democrats are arguing on much worse ground than in the spring, before Iraq showed significant signs of stabilization. Small wonder they want to focus on S-CHIP, even though it is essentially a non-sequitur in this debate, as the expansion of a moderate program to cover poor children into a middle-class entitlement would not have been mutually exclusive to Iraq war funding anyway.

Or do the Democrats want to argue that they would have supported the Iraq war funding if Bush hadn't vetoed the S-CHIP expansion? That's what this argument means.


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