Dems Unwilling to Compromise on SCHIP

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:32pm EDT

( - Democrats lamenting President George W. Bush's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) said they were unwilling to compromise on the measure on Thursday. Congressional Republicans, however, blamed Democrats for playing politics with children's healthcare, because they have postponed further action for two weeks.

"What the president has done with his macho pen is really hurt children," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said during a briefing with reporters. (Click to listen to audio)

"He is affecting 4.4 million children who would be new recipients of this health care plan, and he would be eliminating with his veto about a million-and-a-half other kids," he added.

"SCHIP has become a metaphor on what is wrong with this administration, said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"This isn't an issue of fiscal responsibility, or they wouldn't be blithely spending so much on Iraq," he added.

But House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said "Republicans are standing on principle."

"We want to reauthorize the program, we want to make sure that poor children who don't have access to high quality health insurance get it," he said during a press conference on Thursday.

But Boehner noted that the program the Democrats have put forth expands it to adults and to illegal immigrants.

"This is not what the American people want," he said. "What they put on the table is the first step toward government-run health insurance - single payer national health care."

He called the proposal a "play right out of the Hillary health care playbook."

"I don't think it's right to play political games on the backs of poor children," Boehner said. "Yesterday's actions by the majority to postpone the veto override in the House for up to two weeks is proof enough that they want to play politics with this issue."

He added that if they were willing to compromise, one could be reached immediately.

But Reid said, "You cannot wring another ounce of compromise out of this," adding that Bush is "out of touch with reality."

He urged Republicans to break away from the president on SCHIP, because it is the "right thing to do."

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