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Democrat poster-child abuse, the nutroots’ pushback, and the continued campaign to silence the Right

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 9, 2007 11:08 PM

Update 1:40pm Eastern. Bruce Kesler discovers that, despite living in one of the highest cost areas of the U.S., San Diego, owning a modest house in a middle-class neighborhood, with substantial equity, he qualifies for S-CHIP. He says no thanks:

What could we do with an extra $10,000 a year, if we didn’t have to pay insurance premiums, and instead SCHIP and taxpayers picked up the tab? Fix-up the 24-year old house; Buy a new or recent car; Hire baby sitters and get some additional sanity from entertainment; Eat better than at Jack or the Clown; Put steaks on the table; Have a cellphone, at least for emergencies, and faster downloads; and so on.

We make choices, in favor of frugality and self-responsibility, and can thus afford to continue to pay insurance premiums.

Sure, it’s not easy being a parent, or living in a high-cost area. Sure, it would be nice to live easier. But, is that fair to other struggling taxpayers?

SCHIP should include reasonable asset tests. In all but three states, it doesn’t have any.

More: Need vs. want.

Update 1:10pm Eastern 10/10. Snort-worthy conspiracy theory of the day…The tinfoil hatters at ThinkProgress actually believes conservative bloggers were in cahoots with Mitch McConnell, whom I lambasted below. The unreality-based community really does live in a different galaxy.

Mark Steyn, presumably taking his marching orders from Mitch McConnell (snort-snort), hits the nail on the head once again:

Mr Frost works “intermittently”. The unemployment rate in the Baltimore metropolitan area is four-percent. Perhaps he chooses to work “intermittently,” just as he chooses to send his children to private school, and chooses to live in a 3,000-square-foot home. That’s what free-born citizens in democratic societies do: choose. Sometimes those choices work out, and sometimes they don’t. And, when they don’t and catastrophe ensues, it’s appropriate that the state should provide a safety net. But it should be a safety net of last resort, and it’s far from clear that it is in this case.

FastFact: The ‘C’ in SCHIP Is for Children, Except When It’s Not…

According to the states’ budget projections, 13 will spend more than 44 percent of their SCHIP funds in 2008 on people who are neither children nor pregnant women.

Michigan tops the list with 71.6 percent of its SCHIP money earmarked for adults who have no kids. In New Mexico, 52.3 percent of the state’s SCHIP dollars will be spent on childless adults.

Source: Department of Health and Human Services/CMS Data

Update 11:50am Eastern 10/10. Here’s the Baltimore Sun’s nutroots-approved follow-up piece on the Frost family, using a single, rotten comment by a stupid RedState commenter to tar all conservative bloggers as hatemongers. Interestingly, the Sun asked the Frost parents to verify their claimed income and the couple declined. Also, the Sun reported that all four of the children attend private schools, not just two. The paper is silent on when the family started receiving claimed tuition breaks and how much the family spent on private-school tuition each year prior to the accident–i.e., at a time when they chose not to buy private health insurance. The Frosts tell the Sun they put their children in the public arena to support S-CHIP. But Harry Reid didn’t exploit the children and the family merely to argue for supporting the existing federal program. Their agenda is massive, middle-class entitlement expansion under the guise of helping working poor children. Keep your eyes on the Democrat ball.

Reader Rob asks: “Why is it when the Baltimore Sun takes photos of the house they are reporters, but when you simply drive by you are a stalker? Why is it when the New York Times calls the home, it’s “for an interview” but when a blog does it for the same reason, it’s harassment?”

Answer: It’s ferocious turf protection, plain and simple.

Video bonus: Don’t miss the flashback clip of John Kerry’s health-care poster child abuse.

***
memegraeme.jpg

I received an e-mail from a NYTimes reporter this afternoon:

Writing about blog coverage of the SCHIP debate, including scrutiny of Graeme Frost and plan to include references to your posts. Would like comment if you’re willing. Republicans on Capitol Hill are now saying they think the Frost children are legitimate recipients of CHIP coverage.

Thanks and regards,

David M. Herszenhorn
The New York Times
Congressional Correspondent

I gave him these comments:

The bottom line here is that this family has considerable assets. Maryland’ s S-CHIP program does not means-test (correction: I meant to say assets-test>. The refusal to do assets tests on federal health insurance programs is why federal entitlements are exploding and government keeps expanding. If Republicans don’t have the guts to hold the line, they deserve to lose their seats.

I also told him this:

As for accusations about “smearing” and “Swiftboating,” I’ll repeat what I said on my blog: “When a family and Democrat political leaders drag a child down to Washington at 6 in the morning to read a script written by Senate Democrat staffers on a crusade to overturn a presidential veto, someone might have questions about the family’s claims. The newspapers don’t want to do their jobs. The vacuum is being filled. If you don’t want questions, don’t foist these children onto the public stage. Fight your battles like adults and stop hiding behind youngsters dragging around red wagons filled with your talking points.”

Here’s the NYTimes story, which actually turned out much fairer and more balanced than I expected. An excerpt:

…what on the surface appears to be yet another partisan feud, all the nastier because a child is at the center of it, actually cuts to the most substantive debate around S-chip. Democrats say it is crucially needed to help the working poor — Medicaid already helps the impoverished — but many Republicans say it now helps too many people with the means to help themselves.

The feud also illustrates what can happen when politicians showcase real people to make a point, a popular but often perilous technique.

Some Republicans are too weak in the knees to engage:

Republicans on Capitol Hill, who were gearing up to use Graeme as evidence that Democrats have overexpanded the health program to include families wealthy enough to afford private insurance, have backed off, glad to let bloggers take the heat for attacking a family with injured children.

An aide to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, expressed relief that his office had not issued a press release criticizing the Frosts.

Oh, swell. So he feels “relief” because he doesn’t have to ask the hard questions about the continued entitlement creep approved by both big government parties? Well, wipe your brow and pat yourself on the back! Crikey.

Meantime, Nancy Pelosi seems confident that those weak-kneed Republicans will roll over:

“Democrats, including the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, have risen to the Frosts’ defense, saying they earn about $45,000 a year and are precisely the type of working-poor Americans that the program was intended to help.

That’s what should concern every fiscal conservative left in Congress. And it is exactly why the Frosts’ financial situation is so germane–i.e., because Democrats are holding them out as “precisely the type of working-poor Americans that the program was intended to help.”

Dan Riehl has some questions the NYTimes didn’t get around to asking.

Now, before I get into the latest, left-wing attacks on those of us who dare to question the Democrats’ sacred political narratives, here’s my new syndicated column on Dirty Harry Reid’s poster child abuse:

A few weeks ago, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lured two young children to the public spotlight to help him pass a massive expansion of government health insurance. Gemma and Graeme Frost, 9 and 12 years old respectively, were severely injured in a car accident three years ago. Their parents obtained government health care through the non-meansassets-tested Children’s Health Insurance Program in Maryland. President Bush’s veto doesn’t change that. And there’s the rub.

Because liberal lawmakers cannot honestly defend their expansion plans as bona fide aid to the needy, they have surrounded themselves with the Frosts and other kiddie human shields to deflect any tough scrutiny. As they push for an override of the president’s veto, scheduled for Oct. 18, the desperate Dems will shamelessly invoke the Absolute Moral Authority kiddie card to attack their critics for “attacking the children.”

After 12-year-old Graeme Frost delivered the Democrat radio address last week, which was penned for him by Senate staffers, conservatives on the FreeRepublic.com forum and across the Internet asked the questions the mainstream media wouldn’t ask about the family’s financial situation. The couple claims an annual combined annual income of about $45,000. Neither the Democrats nor the Baltimore Sun indicate how they verified that assertion before circulating it.

What is verifiable: The Frosts own a home in Baltimore purchased for $55,000 sixteen years ago–and now worth an estimated $300,000. That’s a lot of equity. In addition, the children’s father, Halsey Frost, owns commercial real estate and his own small business, but chose not to buy health insurance for himself and his wife, whom he hired as an employee. She now apparently works freelance at a medical publishing firm, which also reportedly doesn’t offer insurance. Gemma and Graeme both attend expensive private schools; the Frosts have two other school-age children. Reid’s staff says Gemma and Graeme receive tuition breaks. But it’s not clear when those scholarships were instituted and/or whether the other two receive tuition aid as well. Moreover, Frost’s family comes from considerable means. The children’s maternal grandfather was an engineering executive. Their paternal grandparents hail from affluent Bronxville, New York, where the grandfather is a prominent facilities management consultant and chairman of the municipal planning board.

In other words: The public trough is not Halsey Frost’s last and only resort.

The accident was horrible. The children deserve much sympathy and compassion. But this family made choices. Choices have consequences. Taxpayers of lesser means should not be forced to subsidize them.

The Frosts claim it would cost them more per month than their mortgage, reportedly $1,200 a month, to buy private insurance. But insurance bloggers quickly found available plans for a family of six with premiums as low as $452/month.

“That’s almost a third of the price quoted in the [Baltimore Sun] article,” wrote Bob Vineyard at InsureBlog. “Doesn’t anyone bother to check the facts?”

When in comes to Democrat health care poster children, the answer is “No, they don’t.” Graeme and Gemma Frost are not the first political symbols to be exploited by the socialized health care pushers of the Left:

In 1996, Hillary Clinton propped up young Jennifer Bush, a seven-year-old with mystery ailments whose mother coached her to lobby for universal health care Jennifer was trotted out to present the Clintons a lucky silver dollar “to bring you good luck so everyone can have good insurance.” Jennifer’s mother was later convicted of aggravated child abuse and welfare fraud for misrepresenting $60,000 in assets on Medicaid forms.

In 2000, Al Gore propped up elderly widow Winifred Skinner to lambaste high drug prices. Gore repeated her claim that she had to pick up cans on the side of the road to pay for medicine. Dan Rather bemoaned: “She’s no child, but she belongs on a poster about high drug costs.” One problem: Winifred’s own well-to-do son, businessman Earl King, debunked those claims.

In 2004, John Kerry propped up Mary Ann Knowles, a breast cancer patient who he claimed “had to keep working day after day right through her chemotherapy, no matter how sick she felt, because she was terrified of losing her family’s health insurance?” The conservative Manchester Union Leader editorial page reported: “Knowles chose to work through most, but not all, of her chemotherapy because her husband was out of a job…She and husband John did not want to take the pay cut that would have come with disability leave, so Mary Ann kept working.”

The Democrats sorely resent that they can no longer peddle their Big Nanny propaganda unchallenged. Harry Reid is already throwing tantrums and attacking the messengers who expose their health-care poster child abuse.

Here’s a free prescription for our stunted politicians: Grow up.

The Free Republic member who first scrutinized the Frost case has a follow-up here. He concludes: “This is not a family of renters, they own not only a 3,040 SF home but a commercial property as well. I’m not faulting them for it, I’m not trying to say they are rich, I’m trying to make people aware of what types of families are CURRENTLY covered by S-CHIP so we can honestly debate if the income ceiling should be raised. Hmmmm, I really could use that new bass boat motor and the kids really would like a Nintendo Wii … maybe I’ll change my position.”

And now to the nutroots’ pushback. It’s not just Media Matters and MoveOn.org who lie through their teeth and attempt to intimidate critics through mass thuggishness. It’s militant leftist bloggers who wouldn’t know a good-faith argument if it bit them in the lip.

On Monday, I did something that has everyone from King Kos on down to the dregs (a short traveling distance, to be sure) screaming “Stalker!” What did I do? I went up to Baltimore and interviewed a tenant at health-care poster parent Halsey Frost’s place of business and drove past the Frost home. That’s not “stalking.” That’s not “harassing.” It’s reporting.

This is stalking.

Why did I take the time to go to Baltimore? Because bloggers raised questions about the Frosts’ financial situation and made specific reference to these pieces of real estate. I did not “harass” the Frosts. I simply reported what the tenant told me and described what I saw after driving by their home. My basic reporting rebutted some impressions left by other bloggers on the right who haven’t been to these sites and assumed they were high-end luxury properties. They’re not. Moreover, I corrected the mistake that some of these bloggers made in overvaluing the house at $400,000-plus. It’s closer to $300,000.

The bottom line remains:

This family made choices. Choices have consequences. Taxpayers of lesser means should not be forced to subsidize them.

The Left is so accustomed to the stenographic servitude of the MSM, it goes bananas when we fill the vacuum. Moonbat bloggers have taken to posting my personal home information again in “retaliation.”

Why? Because they want to make an example: Challenge their narratives and you will pay.

If they can redefine simple reporting as “stalking,” they’ll have their desired chilling effect.

You can’t win with the unhinged mob. If you blog from home and don’t get your ass out of your chair, you’re a navel-gazing pontificator in pajamas who’s a wannabe journalist. If you get off your ass and get out on the street to compare what’s been written with the reality on the ground, you’ll be mauled as a “stalker” and “slimer” and “wingnut Nazi whore.” Never mind the truly unhinged and destructive tactics that the anti-war, anti-Bush Left itself has embraced and perfected.

Context, people, context: This is the inevitable M.O. every time bloggers and commentators on the right have challenged the Absolute Moral Authority of the Democrat poster child du jour. It happened with Cindy Sheehan. And the military recruiter-bashing thugs at Santa Cruz. And MoveOn.org. And the phony soldier saga. Crush Rush is just the tip of the iceberg. Just ask the mom-and-pop Cafe Press owners who got those cease-and-desist letters from MoveOn.org’s lawyers for daring to defend Gen. David Petraeus.

When they cry “intimidation,” they are engaging in classic projection.

This is not about The Children. It’s about the purported adults in the Democrat party leadership, the left-wing blogosphere, and the sycophantic media who can’t debate policy without flinging their peas when challenged.

Financial assets are at the very core of this debate. Schip was supposed to be a bridge to help insure children in poor families who barely missed out on qualifying for Medicaid. The Democrats are pushing the Schip eligibility level to 200, 300, 400 percent of the federal poverty line. The kids’ program is no longer just for kids and may well cover illegal aliens to boot.

Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Republicans need to force the Left out of its ideological infancy and stop this disastrous entitlement juggernaut.

I repeat what I told the Times reporter:

If Republicans don’t have the guts to hold the line, they deserve to lose their seats.

***

Reminder: The veto override vote is scheduled for Oct. 18. The stakes are high…

Sensing their best opportunity yet to overrule a White House that has stymied them on stem cell research and Iraq, congressional Democrats and their supporters have launched a campaign to override President Bush’s veto of plans to expand the popular State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

With polls showing broad support even among Republican voters to expand coverage to 4 million more children nationwide, congressional Democrats are rallying their allies publicly while speaking to their GOP colleagues privately. Supporters both on and off Capitol Hill are sinking millions of dollars into advertisements and automated “robo-calls” in the home districts of targeted Republicans, urging constituents to add to the pressure.

The veto override campaign pits a congressional majority – eager for victory on a program popular among both liberals and moderates – against conservative Republicans whose base sees the expansion as a step toward a national health plan. With the vote scheduled for Oct. 18, Democrats have given themselves two weeks to build support for a vote with reverberations likely to be felt next fall…

…The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raises money for the House races, is targeting eight Republicans with radio and television ads. Democrats were joined yesterday by a coalition including MoveOn.org, Americans United for Change and several labor unions, which announced spots that officials said would have an impact on more than 30 Republicans.

Make sure House Minority Leader John Boehner hears from you:

Washington Office:
1011 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3508
Phone: (202) 225-6205
Fax: (202) 225-0704

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