GOP cashes in chips with S-CHIP

by Ogi Overman

In relation to his numerous crimes against humanity, acts of treason, and other impeachable offenses, Bush’s veto of the S-CHIP bill would probably not rank toward the top. But Congress’ failure to override his veto may well portend an ’08 landslide that will dwarf the margin the Democrats gained in ’06.

By sticking to the party line and remaining Bush toadies, several dozen GOP congressmen and senators who were already vulnerable have likely sealed their doom. And, if we’re lucky, several of those with heretofore secure seats – like, oh, Howard Coble – may also find themselves on the outside looking in. Unless my Democratic brethren manage to somehow snatch another defeat from the Nixonian jowls of victory – which is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility – come next November both houses will have solid majorities and the White House will mercifully be occupied by an adult.

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program has been such a valid and worthwhile endeavor that this act to reauthorize and expand it passed overwhelmingly in both houses, 67-29 in the Senate, 265-159 in the House. The Senate already enjoyed a veto-proof majority but the House fell 17 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override the Duh. While the vote to override peeled off a few GOP votes, the 273-156 majority was still nine votes short.

Just as he always does, Bush eked out another seeming victory, this one by nine lousy votes. Of course, as we know all too well, Bush is accustomed to narrow victories (witness the one Supreme Court justice who cast the vote that awarded him the presidency), but this one is going to backfire on, if not him, then certainly his party. Barring the catastrophic, like, say, a terrorist attack in late summer that would have him declare martial law and disband the elections, he’ll be packing for Crawford this time next year. But he will have thrown a goodly number of Republicans under the bus who might overwise have returned to DC, thanks to this S-CHIP fiasco.

This bill, a five-year expansion that would’ve cost $35 billion and added 3.3 million children to the program, enjoyed such bipartisan support that it could have given GOP legislators who needed to put some distance between themselves and the Duh a justifiable reason to break ranks. And, to their credit, 44 of them did. Even though polls showed that 80 percent of the country favored the program, including 61 percent of Republicans, 156 of them – including the entire seven-person N.C. GOP delegation – again ignored the will of the people and fell in line behind Premier Bushcheneyrove.

As expected, we saw the Republican Slime Machine throttle up by lambasting the 12-year-old boy, Graeme Frost, who delivered the Democratic response to the “president’s” radio address two Saturdays ago, as well as another family who’d benefited from S-CHIP. Naturally, OxyContin Limbaugh led the charge, reaching yet another new low in the process by mocking the young boy’s halting speaking voice, but he was joined by a staffer from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, which demonstrated that there really are no lower boundaries for the right-wing ideologues.

It also proves that the GOP is already geared up for another Swiftboat attack on the Dems. It worked on Kerry but even a gullible and compliant electorate can only be fooled so many times. The Democrats have seized on this issue and, believe me, they’ve already targeted many of the House members who voted with Bush.

Now, just in case a Republican tries to tell you otherwise, this veto denied 116,000 North Carolina children access to healthcare. The upper income level was $41,300 for a family of four, not the $83,000 figure the GOP threw out. It would have been paid for by an increase in the cigarette tax, meaning if you don’t smoke it didn’t cost you a dime. Oh, and the total cost could have been covered by what the United States spends to prolong the war on Iraq in about five months.

But, hey, Bush has his priorities, right? Eternal war vs. children’s health, what a no-brainer.

At least he’s consistent. This marked his fourth veto: two which kept the cap on stem cell research, one on a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, and now one against child healthcare. This is our “pro-life” president, boys and girls, our “compassionate conservative.”

Sadly, our own good ol’ boy congressman Howard Coble is equally predictable. He talks a good game in opposition to the war, but when the roll call comes he’s in lockstep with the Duh every single time. As I said in my open letter to him a few weeks ago (which he never replied to, BTW), he could have gone down in history as a folk hero. Since then, the veto override gave him another chance to vote his conscience, but he chose to remain a party loyalist instead.

The GOP ship’s going down, Howard. Don’t go down with it. Retire.

Ogi may be reached at, heard Tuesdays at 9:30 am on “The Dusty Dunn Show” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on “Triad Today” Fridays at 6:30 am on ABC 45 and Sundays at 10 pm on WMYV 48.