David Schiefelbein: The great divide over SCHIP

David Schiefelbein

Last week’s online opinion poll resembled recent Missouri elections in its close outcome.

We asked readers “Should both houses of Congress override President Bush's veto of the SCHIP funding bill to provide insurance for low- and middle-income children?”

Six votes and 1 percent separated the yea’s from the nay’s out of 851 votes cast. Forty-nine percent (414) voted yes, while 48 percent (408) said no and 3 percent (29) weren’t sure how they felt about this most recent national debate.

The unanswered question is were those votes cast along party lines or age demographics?

Were the votes cast according to the politics of need or self-interest? Retirees have no need of SCHIP; young family workers aren’t overly concerned about keeping Social Security checks in the mail and up with inflation.

Some have accused the president of being a cold-hearted bastard for vetoing the bill, others have accused backers of the measure of fostering a cradle-to-grave government care program, denouncing those who would look for a free lunch.

Lunch has nothing to do with it. It is about preserving quality of life of those from whom it is gradually slipping away as the Great American Middle Class is pilfered by the top 1 percent. I doubt many of those 1-percenters took part in our poll, but more than a few of the participants may think they belong, and some might.

For now.

Once the wealth of the middle class is gone, eyes will be turned to the remaining wealth in the upper middle class.

The SCHIP bill was originally intended to fund health care for children of low-income families, back when there was still a strong middle class in America. Now most of the country lives two-to-three paychecks away from homelessness.

The $125 fee just to walk in a doctor’s office to sit and wait is staggering to families needing two incomes just to survive. All the while, the tax bite takes ever increasing chunks of the paycheck working families bring home.

Is SCHIP a perfect solution?

No, but it beats the alternative of a generation of sick kids growing into sickly adults as our society continues to dump more and more contaminants into the environment.

SCHIP is fair because it levels the playing field for a class that will only continue to grow in coming years - those who can’t afford health insurance, much less health care.

I suspect those who call SCHIP – which operates on premiums based on income – a free-lunch giveaway program had children back in a time when health care costs weren’t skyrocketing at today’s rates and we didn’t work half a year just to pay taxes.

Send me your comments at editor@lakesunleader.com.