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S-CHIP and the Democrats’ human shield campaign; Update: The Dems choose another shield; Update: Olbermann coaxes Frost family to display children’s accident photos; Update: New poll results show a majority of Americans are “meanies,” too; Update: The Wilkersons made a choice

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 15, 2007 09:28 AM

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Update 10:30am Eastern. “Meanie” Mark Hemingway reports on the Democrats’ new poster family, the Wilkersons:

While USAction and a labyrinthine maze of leftist activist groups prepare to rally around images of Tampa Bay’s Most Photogenic Baby holding up a crayon sign that says “Don’t Veto Me,” Dara and Brian Wilkerson are real poster children — for irresponsible decisions.

On the conference call, Dara admitted to me that she and Brian had been talking about having children since before they were married. She further admitted that after they were married she voluntarily left a job at a country club that had good health insurance, because the situation was “unmanageable.” From there she took a job at a restaurant with no health insurance, and the couple went on to have a baby anyway, presuming that others would pay for it and certainly long before they knew their daughter would have heart defect that probably cost the gross national product of Burkina Faso to fix. But not knowing about future health problems is the reason we have insurance in the first place.

Now, pause for a second. Are you reading this at your computer at work, in a job that you don’t particularly care for or even downright detest because you have a spouse and child that depend on you? You wouldn’t be the first or last person to make that choice.

For Dara and Brian Wilkerson, the fact that they don’t have health insurance is less about falling through the cracks than the decisions they’ve made. We know that Dara is at least capable of getting a job with insurance — so why does she not have one now? Even if it is difficult insure her child’s pre-existing condition, what about her and her husband’s health? Perhaps it’s rude to ask that question, but I think it’s rude to accept huge amounts of public assistance and then express gratitude by asking taxpayers to extend a Children’s health program to cover college-age kids who come from households making more than $80,000 a year.

Update 9:20am Eastern 10/16. According to the latest USA Today poll, most Americans support President Bush’s veto of the S-CHIP expansion:

52% agree with Bush that most benefits should go to children in families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level — about $41,000 for a family of four. Only 40% say benefits should go to families earning up to $62,000, as the bill written by Democrats and some Republicans would allow.


Ed Morrissey
:

Democrats have gone on a full-court press to get this legislation passed, and then to get the veto overridden. They have used two families as fronts for the expansion, even though the children of both families qualified for S-CHIP prior to their expansion. They are running ads even now, showing toddlers with large, staring eyes, that claim “George Bush vetoed Susie,” and so on.

And they have lost the argument. Despite Bush’s low polling numbers and their political advantage on domestic policy, the Democrats have not convinced Americans to subsidize health insurance for middle-class families. In fact, the USA Today poll used the less-outrageous annual income limit of $62,000 for the description of the expansion (some have it at $83,000), and Democrats still lose, 52%-40%. It isn’t even close.

Update 9:45pm Eastern. The Frost parents finally made a wise choice and decided not to put their son on Olbermann. Instead, they appeared to field Olbermann’s softball questions about the “lunatic fringe.”

Olbermann prodded the family to supply pictures of their children in the hospital recovering from their terrible accident. The photos were displayed as Olbermann and the couple complained about the Right’s “distraction” techniques.

Here is the video.

It really doesn’t get much lower or much cheaper or much sadder than this.

Then again, the Democrats are putting a toddler on stage on Capitol Hill tomorrow.

There’s always tomorrow.

Update 7:30pm Eastern. I didn’t have time today to respond to a Politico reporter wanting to bait me somehow over the Dems’ latest S-Chip poster family. Like the Frosts, the new spokesfamily has a tragic personal story and is a curious example of the supposedly pressing need for S-CHIP expansion…because the family already qualifies for the existing program and nothing President Bush or the Dems propose to do would change that.

The Baltimore Sun blog says the new toddler-aged human shield will speak on the Hill tomorrow:

Now meet Bethany Wilkerson, the latest youngster enlisted by congressional Democrats or their allies to help build support for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Having suffered from heart failure as an infant, USAction says, the Florida toddler would not be alive today but for the government-funded program for moderate-income families not poor enough to qualifty for Medicaid.

Now Bethany is scheduled to speak at a Capitol Hill rally Tuesday evening, according to a release this morning by Americans United For Change.

There was no word on what the 2-year-old plans to say. But she joins a flurry of 11th-hour activity in advance of the attempt by House Democrats on Thursday to override Bush’s veto of legislation to expand coverage to 4 million more children at a cost of $35 billion over five years.

McQ weighs in: “How do to the Wilkersons argue for the expansion of the program that the Democrats are trying ram through that could include families 400% over the poverty level and “children” who are 25? They don’t. So other than emotional appeal and an attempt to pretend the Wilkersons are the sort of family the fight is about when it is not, why are we seeing the Wilkersons at all?”

Perhaps Harry Reid and his minions realize what a poor choice the Frosts were and are flinging new human shields in front of them as distractions.

Rick Moran:

Funny how we don’t see any poster families who are 400% above the poverty level being pushed forward as examples of the kinds of people the $35 billion expansion of S-CHIP will help. Why not? Since the original parameters of the S-CHIP program enjoys the overwhelming support of Congress and the President, why trot forward families like the Frosts and the Wilkersons who qualify under the current rules? Why not bring to the fore those families at the high end of the expansion requirements and let the American people decide if they want to subsidize insurance for them?

The answer is obvious; a family living 400% above poverty are not as sympathetic as those, like the Wilkerson’s, who couldn’t get by without S-CHIP. In fact, pushing forward people who make more than 40% of all the families in America as the poster family for S-CHIP expansion would probably torpedo the bill then and there.

I note that this time around, the Democrats were careful to push a family forward whose choices regarding health insurance couldn’t be questioned. In that respect, if they’re waiting for conservatives to attack the Wilkerson’s, they are going to be sorely disappointed. The Democrats just don’t have a clue about the true nature of the opposition to their S-CHIP expansion. For that, they would have to give a fig about the tradeoffs we make between dependency and freedom every time they get some not so bright idea about “helping” those who can usually be counted on to help themselves.

BP has more.

Update 5:15pm Eastern. More adults-only perspectives from Tom Blumer and Dave at Wide Open.

Grown-up Jeff Goldstein weighs in:

The entire dustup over SCHIP has never been about the Frost family — except insofar as cynical Dems were willing to use an injured child already covered by the program as an emotional beard to demand an increase that would cover those making close to twice as much as the boy’s family.

Or, to put it another way, it was a carefully designed emotional appeal crafted by craven politicians looking for a stepping stone toward socialized medicine — providing incentives for the already insured to drop private healthcare in favor of healthcare paid for by tax dollars, and administered by a federal bureaucracy.

The backlash against those who “smeared” the messengers (who, given that the family was already covered, weren’t really the messengers for what it is supporters of the increase are demanding), therefore, represents the kind of faux outrage of the criminal caught red-handed who cries foul over the way his crime was exposed.

Hence, the defensive nature of the discourse — and the trajectory of the debate toward the emotional, with no regard for the substance of the issues actually under pressure.

And here’s the latest from the White House:

Bush has already vetoed legislation that would have raised spending on a popular children’s health insurance program $35 billion over five years. Bush has called for a $5 billion increase and he defended his position again in his remarks in Rogers, Ark.

Bush has offered to accept a bigger spending increase on the program to get a deal done with Democrats. But he and his aides won’t say how high he’s willing to go.

“We’re not going to negotiate through the media on this,” deputy press secretary Tony Fratto told reporters on Air Force One on Monday. “The goal has to be to get the policy right — what are the principles behind the policy — and then see what the numbers are.”

Update for adults only: The Heritage Foundation has a comprehensive S-CHIP policy analysis page here.

***

If you thought for a moment that Harry Reid and the Democrats might have obtained some wisdom and maturity over the weekend and put down their child-sized human shields, think again. The presidential veto override vote on the S-CHIP entitlement expansion is set for Thursday. Though they admit they probably don’t have the votes, Democrats are already crowing about this “defining moment.” They have vowed to introduce yet another bill if their override fails. Meanwhile, their universal health care minions continue to inundate the airwaves with noxious “Bush vs. the children” ads. Hollyweirdos are cursing their heads off at critics of the massive government expansion. And the questionable poster parents hand-picked by Harry Reid are keeping their child on center stage.

Liberal blogger Jeralyn Merritt writes on her blog Blogger “Last Night in Little Rock” over at Jeralyn Merrit’s Talkleft blog reports that young Graeme Frost is scheduled to appear tonight on King of Cable TV Moonbats Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show.

That is just unspeakably sad.

Yet, instead of standing up to Harry Reid’s crass human shield campaign and calling out the poster child-abusing adults hiding behind grade-schoolers to defend their socialized health care Trojan Horse, some Beltway Republicans have grown queasy and are sighing to the NYTimes about “partisan bickering” over the $35 billion public health expansion.

If Republicans don’t have the stomach to do battle over fundamental policy questions–like, you know, who deserves government-subsidized health insurance– what are they doing in office? More “partisan bickering” could have spared us McCain-Feingold, No Child Left Behind, and the hugetastic Medicare expansion boondoogle. If not for “partisan bickering,” shamnesty would be the law(lessness) of the land.

We need more “partisan bickering,” not less.

***

This just in…Harry Reid’s favorability ratings are now lower than President Bush’s in Nevada among most likely voters. Order up some more human shields!

***

Darleen Click notes the Frost parents’ apparent change of heart on parading their children in public and wonders: Where are the adults in the Left?

As for the mindless mantra that we’re attacking a child, attacking a child, attacking a child, attacking a child, attacking a child, I challenged the lefties to quote a single instance on my blog of a single negative, ad hominem word I’ve written attacking the Frost children. The response? Nothing.

Amy Ridenour gets to the heart of the matter at hand:

What’s regrettable about the SCHIP debate is not that the Frost family received national attention after seeking it out, but that so many important parts of the debate are being glossed over. Nothing in the Reid-cum-Frost radio presentation, for instance, mentioned that the Reid-Pelosi $35 billion SCHIP expansion plan is underfunded.

The big-spending expansion proponents urge Congress to adopt a 61 cents per pack cigarette tax increase to pay for expansion. But as Michelle C. Bucci and William W. Beach of the Heritage Foundation have pointed out, there aren’t enough smokers to pay the SCHIP expansion tab. Bucci and Beach say new tobacco tax funds may be sufficient for no more than two years’ worth of the expansion, and certainly not much more. What will Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi do then? Start running public service announcements asking people to take up smoking, because the Frost family needs help?

…Another inconvenient truth left out of the Reid-Frost presentation is the bitter little fact that whatever funding a tobacco tax increase provides will be highly regressive — even as the SCHIP expansion makes that program less regressive. As David Hogberg in his paper “SCHIP Expansion: Socialized Medicine on the Installment Plan” for the National Center for Public Policy Research pointed out, if the expansion plan is adopted, “it is not inconceivable that a parent with one child with an income of $13,690 will be funding benefits for two children in a family of four with an income of $82,600.”

12-year-old Graeme Frost probably doesn’t know the SCHIP expansion he’s fronting for would tax the poor to fund the middle class. What’s Harry Reid’s excuse?

Ernest Istook looks at the left-wing groups propping up their kiddie human shields for the Dems:

Americans United for Change (AUC), MoveOn.org, and the Service Employees International Union (which claims over one million hospital workers as members) are spending millions on the effort. Also coordinating and mobilizing people are groups such as the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, the AARP, and the American Medical Association. Sadly, rather than supporting ways to make medical bills more affordable, many in health care are pushing to have government pay those bills.

When costs are too high, what do we fix by having government pick up the tab?

AUC says the coalition will generate one million immediate contacts from constituents to lawmakers who opposed the bill. They promise to make this a major issue in congressional campaigns next year. Says AUC President Brad Woodhouse, “We’re taking this on … as epic a battle as the battle to end the war.”

Propaganda is an integral part of warfare, and this group is making it their main weapon. Families USA, for example, presents the issue using cartoonish rhetoric in website headlines such as “Bush vs. Kids” and “President Bush to Children: “No Health Care for You”“

The rally organizers are pulling out all the stops, too. As one e-mailed rally invitation noted, “If you have kids, definitely bring them, too!”

For the Children. Of the Children. Behind the Children. Dodging every step of the way.

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