Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Good Use Of The Veto Pen

Today, President George W. Bush did something he hardly ever does ... he vetoed a spending bill. Of course, like everything this President does, he will be criticized in the press and the Democrats will try to make political fodder out of it, but let's take a closer look at this bill and see why he vetoed it.

The bill is HR 976 and its' purpose is to amend Title XXI of the Social Security Act. It was designed to be the largest expansion of health insurance coverage for children since Medicaid was started in the 1960's. The bill increased the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $35,000,000,000.00 (35 Billion ... I just think that all the zeros bring the cost of this program into better perspective), over the next 5 years. Currently, children in families with incomes up to 200 percent of the poverty level. HR 976 would expand coverage to families making 300 percent of the poverty level ($62,000.00 for a family of 4), and certain states would be able to enact legislation expanding the coverage to families making up to $83,000.00.

Obviously, a family with an income of $83K is not exactly wallowing in poverty, so why are our tax dollars going to be used to help provide insurance for their kids? Sure, medical insurance is expensive ... but for someone making that kind of money it becomes a choice. A lot of times that choice becomes a more expensive car instead of a health plan. Since this is a free country, I have nothing to say about a stupid choice like that (well maybe a little), but I Do Not want my taxes to pay for his choice. And $62K a year is pretty much the same thing. What this bill will do is get people to drop their current (more expensive) health insurance and switch to the Government sponsored insurance program. You can't blame the folks for taking a good deal when it's offered to them, but you can blame a Government that is more interested in finding a way to expand government dependence, then maybe finding a way to lower the cost of current health insurance.

I actually read all 109 pages of this extremely confusing bill (I may have understood 20 of the pages). I must say, I consider myself of at least average intelligence, so our Congressional Representatives must all be members of MENSA and pure geniuses to craft and understand this bill ... even when their appearances on News programs makes them seem dull-witted, they must just be trying to relate to us average people in their constituencies.

A lot of stuff has been said about this bill extending SCHIP to illegal alien children, but try as I might, I could not find anything in it that said it would. Actually, on page 93, Section 605, entitled, "No Federal Funding For Illegal Aliens", this statement is made in fairly precise and understandable English, "Nothing in this Act allows Federal payment for individuals who are not legal residents". This statement is actually amazingly clear ... especially since it was sandwiched between a couple of sections full of legal gobbledy gook. Luckily, I'm a rather trusting fella that takes everything at face value. If I wasn't, I would realize that there is also nothing in this bill that prohibits the individual states from extending SCHIP to illegal immigrants and using federal dollars to help offset this extra expense by using more federal money to cover legal residents.

My least favorite part of this bill is the way they want to pay for this expansion. They want to double the tobacco tax. This is just great for all you non-smokers, but I smoke two packs a day and this would be an increase in the taxes that I personally pay. This proposed tax of $0.61 per pack translates into $482.03 a year after I add in the extra state sales tax of 8.25%. Back in June, the state of Texas, in order to lower our school property tax, increased the tobacco tax by $1.00 a pack. This now costs me $790.22 a year. My property tax went down, but the appraised value of my property went up $18,500.00 and then the school district increased the rate $0.17 per $100.00 in valuation. After the dust cleared, I am now paying $386.52 more than before the "property tax cut". The key question that I am trying to get to (besides complaining about my trials and tribulations) is why are we constantly putting the burden of extra taxes on smokers? Could it be that tobacco users are an easy target since they only comprise roughly 18% of the population? This is actually a regressive tax since the smoking rate is higher for those with lower incomes and the higher the income, the lower the smoking rate ... how does this play with the "Tax The Rich" class?

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Tapline said...

Good post....I really don't know by this is not socialized medicine. As it stands now. Medicaid is not accepted in many doctors praceices. What will it be when the cap is 62,000 or 80,000 the recipents of this give away program will wear out the providers, with colds and not feeling well ailments. This will bankrupt the system.....Just what we need another cigarette tax, just when states are outlawing smoking in all public places. Yeah! this makes sense,,,Not.....stay well....

TRUTH-PAIN said...

What a great expose. Health care, I admit, is something that does not grab my attention and may not be as "sexy" a topic as other issues of the day, yet it is so important in todays political discourse.
Thank you, thank you and ...yes, thank you. I am much better informed today, thanks to the information presented.

American Interests said...

Sounds like you are paying too much tax, I mean indirectly as a smoker. Perhaps you should dump the cigs for red wine.

Very informative and I commend you on reading 109 pages, most would not have. Thanks for the summary!

-eve- said...

Very well thought out. You're one informed citizen :-) (where did you get hold of the 109 pages... ? Can everyone see it? Over here, even a copy of the constitution is hard to get, plus it keeps getting changed). Good thing that bill didn't go through after all...!

buffalodickdy said...

I don't smoke, but taxing anything that has been proven harmful to health and addictive seems contradictory to the term "Health Care".

Paul Champagne said...

tapline ... I agree, what we don't need is another government program and another tax increase.

truth-pain ... I am glad you feel better informed now, just as I am by perusing your blog.

american interests ... I didn't actually read every word of the 109 pages, I skimmed past the crap I couldn't understand after trying to read the legalese in the first couple of pages. As far as giving up smoking, not till it either starts affecting my health or I stop enjoying it.

eve ... you can find just about every bill ever written on the Library of Congress web site. Of course you can only pull the de-classified versions of some paperwork in the interests of national security. Still, it is a lot more open than other governments ... so I consider myself lucky to be living in the USA.

buffalo ... they don't care where the tax money comes from, as long as it comes from a minority of voters.

Superstar said...

Lets face it. He did us the first big favor since 2001. That bill if passed had no way to be successful. Beside who is going to pay for it.
~rolls eyes~
This is Hillary at work. Her big push for "socialized medicine".

For once I am happy that Bush veto'd this one. We already have an over burdened tax for medicar and the states are busy giving it away to illigal aliens' when our own in Katrina still are struggling to get the FEMA checks and have had to relocate just to get services and medicaid that should have been provided to them.


I am all for socialized medicine, if it can be set up and funded, and managed like an HMO. But, seriously this bill had more problems than when Bill Clinton got caught getting a BJ in the oval office....
~shakes head~

Terri said...

I totally agree with you on this.

I was going to write about this, so, if it's okay w/ you.. I'll link to my blog. You did a much better job than I would have done.

Terri said...

Yes, all I've heard was that this will cover the babies and children of illegal aliens ... up to the age of 25 ...

You know how I feel about THAT.

Anonymous said...

I've seen a lot of your comments at some of my friends blogs, so I thought I would hop on over and check it out. I'm glad I did! :-)

Great post! Socialized medicine scares the crap out of me and so it should. If Hillary becomes president, (besides seeing half the country fleeing to Canada)we will see even more of this issue. I am so glad Bush veto'd this. It would be a total disaster. Wow, 109 pages! Better you than me! LOL

Anonymous said...

two packs a day is a lot lol
i hate tabacco tax tooo.
please take care of ur lungs, paul-chan!!

Paul Champagne said...

bambi ... looks like we are going to have a resurection of Hilary-Care from 1992. Who is going to pay for it you ask? According to all the Democratic candidates it will be the rich. Problem is, their definition of rich is anyone who has a decent job.

terri ... link away. Under this bill, the cut-off for coverage will be 18. The children of illegals would only be eligible if they were born in the US (then they would be citizens).

chic ... welcome to my little part of the blogosphere. I still have a headache from trying to decypher all those pages.

niki ... My lungs are fine, I've been smoking since I was twelve (I wanted to be cool) and my lungs are used to it by now.

Debbie said...

Great post. When they trot out the "children" I always get concerned. I'm all for taking care of children that really need help, but this is not the way to do it.

Anonymous said...

duh 12 lol
thats cool.

Paul Champagne said...

debbie ... and don't they just love trotting out the kiddies?

niki ... Yeah, I was working in my Uncle's Deli and would swipe a pack every day. I think he knew, but he never said anything.

snowelf said...


I am not a smoker and I hate smoking, but I certainly respect everyone's right to choose as long as it's legal. And I don't think that they should keep taxing it either. It irritates me how persecuted smokers are. Minnesota just went "smoke free" and I think it's ridiculous.
I guess I have no idea what they SHOULD actually start taxing instead. My insane "that will never work" idea, and don't take this seriously-- but what if they somehow rolled an extra gov tax into credit card charges/debt--how many americans smoke versus have credit card debt? Yea. I'm betting it's more than 18%. They tax our cell phones and everything else--I'm sure they could find a "legal way" to do it. ;)

I am so sick of government programs like this. And if I was making 83k a year, the LAST worry I would have would be how am I going to afford to take my kids to the dr.

Socialized medicine is a good idea in theory, but it would never work the way we'd need it to.


Terri said...

you sure about that cut off being 18...
all I keep hearing (especially on Glenn Beck) is the age of 25.
I just heard it on Fox News today, too.

Anonymous said...

what a nice uncle lol

Paul Champagne said...

snow ... $83K will buy a lot of doctors visits. You are right though, "Universal Health Care" really does sound like a great idea, but it hasn't worked in any of the countrys that it has been tried in. That is why the elite of other countries have been coming to the US when they need major surgery or diagnostic tests for years. The poor and middle class people of those countries are stuck with the mediocre medical care that socialized medicine breeds.

terri ... age 25 with a waiver is the current rule. In the new bill in section 112 entitled "The phasing out of coverage for non pregnant adults", it changes the age to 18 effective Oct 1st 2008. Sooooo, the people you are listening to are technically correct but they are being a bit disingenious about the facts. They don't need to be ... this was a bad piece of legislation. I wish people on both the right and the left would stop trying to scare folks and just present their arguments in a factual manner.

niki ... my Uncle Pat was one of my male role models. Like my dad, he treated his wife like a queen and worked hard every day of his life.