Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hey! That's My Ox You're Goring ...

... and I don't mind one bit.

Last Monday I posted on a proposal to increase the budget for the Children's Health Insurance Program here. The Democrats wanted to increase the funding of the program which provides health insurance to the nation's children who currently are uninsured to $50 billion over five years. The White House made it clear that it would veto the bill because it saw the bill as excessive and the first step on the road to nationalized health care.

In today's NY Times, we learn that a compromise agreement has been reached among members of the Senate Finance Committee on the issue.

Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee reached agreement Friday on a bipartisan plan calling for a big increase in the cigarette tax to pay for a $35 billion expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program over the next five years. ...

Under the proposal, the federal excise tax on cigarettes would be abruptly increased by 61 cents a pack, to $1 a pack. The plan calls for proportional increases for other tobacco products. ...

The Senate plan was negotiated by Mr. Baucus and Senators Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee; John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia; and Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah.

I would have preferred the $50 billion plan, but I also recognize that a bone had to be thrown to the Republicans in the Senate to get their support, and the figure is still well above the paltry $5 billion over five years proposed by the White House. And while I would have preferred the funding be assessed against those with an addiction to war-making instead of against those of us with an addiction to tobacco, I am pleased that the Democrats have wisely included the source of the funding at this end of the deal, rather than assuming increased tax revenues from "a buoyant economy" the way the 109th Congress did, which left us with increased deficits.

None of that, of course, will matter to the White House, I suspect:

Earlier this week, before seeing details of the Senate plan, some White House officials were hinting at the possibility of a veto.

Well, let the President veto the proposal, if it gets to him (the House appears to be standing firm at the $50 billion proposal). Then, if the Republicans in Congress can't find the spine to vote to over ride the veto, well, there's an election in November, 2008.

Bring. It. On.

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