How Stupid Is Bush's SCHIP Veto? Stupidier Than Even The Dems Realize

by: Paul Rosenberg

Thu Oct 04, 2007 at 12:31

Of course Congressional Democrats realize that Bush's veto of SCHIP is good for Democrats and bad for Republicans politically.  But do they really have any idea just how bad it is?  I doubt it.  And because they don't recognize how bad it is, it won't be.  Failure to capitalize on the political opportunity will largely squander it.

For example, it's a little known fact, but Bush was opposed to fully funding SCHIP when he was Governor of Texas, and Democrats failed to make an issue of that in the 2000 campaign.  If they failed to fully capitalize on it then, they will surely do so again.

But what is it, exactly, that they will fail to do?  Simple: They will fail to show how deeply out of step movement conservatives are with the rest of the country.  And more importantly, that gap is growing, as younger voters are even more supportive of social spenging than older voters.

Paul Rosenberg :: How Stupid Is Bush's SCHIP Veto? Stupidier Than Even The Dems Realize
Bush Vs. SCHIP In Texas

In a 1999 article in The Nation, "Running on Empty", Lou Dubose wrote about an episode that should have blown the lid off of all that rhetoric about "compassionate conservatism" (remember that?):

But although Bush may be a good fit for Texas, is he a good fit for the nation? Consider, for a start, his legislative record. As guests of the Black Caucus settled in for lunch, the House was at work on the first piece of his 1999 agenda. "There's a lot of people hurting," the governor had said this past January when he requested that the Senate waive its procedural rules and immediately bring to the floor a $45 million tax break for the oil-and-gas industry. The decline in oil-and-gas prices, Bush argued, erodes the earnings of thousands of "stripper well" owners (most unaccustomed to seeing their annual individual income fall below $100,000). And it threatens the flow of tax revenue the wells provide to a number of Texas school districts.

Bush sure was compassionate, all right!

But then a Democratic lawmaker got a funny idea:

The relief bill for owners of these marginally productive wells was not going to be stopped in the House, the last redoubt of the Texas Democratic Party after Bush's defeat of hopelessly underfunded Land Commissioner Garry Mauro carried Republicans into all twenty-seven statewide elected offices, from attorney general to land commissioner. In fact, House Democrats couldn't even hold their six-seat majority together to limit oil-and-gas tax relief to $200,000 per individual. But a veteran black legislator from Houston did use the debate to direct legislators' attention to another bill, which the governor and his staff were opposing. The oil-and-gas bill is about relief, "about helping people out," Sylvester Turner said, praising perhaps too effusively the tax bill and its Republican sponsors. So he was going to vote for it. Then Turner challenged every representative who was going to cast a vote for the governor's oil-industry bill to vote for adequate funding of the federal/state Children's Health Insurance Program, which would be on the House floor within a few weeks.


And now the details that the American people never heard about in 2000:

While Bush and his staff were pushing the oil-and-gas tax bill through the legislature, they were also fighting to hold the line on health insurance for children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to purchase private health insurance. There are 1.4 million children in Texas who have no health insurance. If eligibility were set at 200 percent of the federal poverty level, more than 500,000 of them would qualify to purchase low-cost insurance policies. Bush insisted, however, that the line be set at 150 percent, eliminating 200,000 children in a state second to California in the number of uninsured children and second to Arizona in the percentage of uninsured children. "It shouldn't even be a fight," said Austin Democratic Representative Glen Maxey, adding that Republican governors in Michigan, California, Florida and New Jersey all agreed to their states' participation in the program. "Christine Whitman is even going to 300 percent," he noted.

That is how the 76th Legislature began in Texas, with the governor flogging a tax break for oil-well owners while limiting a children's health insurance program that brings the state a three-to-one match in federal funds. The two bills illustrate Bush's dual welfare policies: expanding benefits for clients of the corporate welfare state while imposing harsh restrictions on people in need of help. They are also consistent with most of what Bush has set out to achieve since he was elected in 1994.

Bush's whole "compassionate conservative" narrative could have been utterly destroyed if Democrats had simply focused on this deeply telling event.  But, of course, they did not.

The Growing "Socialism" Of American Voters

One of the biggest myths in American politics is that Ronald Reagan heralded a great sea-change in American attitudes.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.  Attitudes toward social spending tend to vary in a cyclical manner, and Ronald Reagan was elected when support had reached a low-point after declining throughout the 1970s.  Almost from the moment he took office, support for social spending started trending up again.  But even more significantly, there is a long-term trend that voters born in each succeeding decade are more supportive of social spending than those born in the decade before, and this did not change with the election of Ronald Reagan.  Those who came of voting age while he was President were more supportive of social spending than voters of any previous decade, and those born while Reagan was president were even more supportive still.

This can be seen at a glance in this chart, based on a combined measure of support for social spending (including the environment) from the General Social Survey:

And in detail in this table:

Combined Attitudes On 6 National Spending Items
(Education, Environment, Health, Welfare, The Conditions Of Blacks, And Problems Of Big Cities)
By Decade of Birth
Spending Attitudes 1880s 1890s 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980sTOTAL
Too Little on 4 or more, Net7.116.918.421.022.724.729.832.835.134.035.628.9
Too Little on 1-3, Net50.038.636.040.442.442.044.947.148.749.850.745.0
About Right on All, Net21.411.615.413.812.812.710.
Too Much, Net28.632.930.324.722.220.714.611.
TOTAL R's142077521,7362,6793,0814,3425,4323,0471,61542423,328

As you can see, we don't have a large sample size for the early decades, but the overall pattern is consistent.  These are truly astonishing figures.  Voters who were born while Ronald Reagan was President were far more supportive of social spending than those who elected FDR in 1932.  Almost a third of voters who were in their 20s during the Great Depression thought we were spending too much, on balance, on the 6 programs combined above when they were asked decades later by the GSS.  But among voters who were in their 20s during Reagan's presidency, such opposition had dropped dramatically to one-fifth of what it had been--6.1 percent vs. 30.3 percent.

Perhaps even more dramatic is what's happened with the ratio between those who want to cut spending, and those who want to increase it most broadly--those saying we shuld increase spending for 4-6 programs.  For voters in their 20s during the Great Depression, this ratio was 30.3 to 18.4--more than 3-2--in favor of cutting.  But for voters in their 20s this decade, that ratio is 6.1 to 35.6, that's almost 6-1 in favor of broadly increased spending.

This is an epochal change in public attitudes.  It's precisely what is meant when we talk about political realignment--at least in terms of fundamental attitudes.  The fact that this doesn't show up in our political representation, in the policies our government enacts--that is a sure sign of a political system that is utterly and totally broken.

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well, here in the MI 8th and 9th (0.00 / 0)
if Rogers and Knollenburg decide to uphold Bush's veto on S-CHIP, I will personally craft youtube video's about thier votes.  And if they argue about trying to keep free health care out of the hands of the children of illegal immigrants, oh God will there be fun for everyone.

So, as I wrote on Michiganliberal, eh, go ahead Joe vote against S-CHIP, the ads will write themselves.  I was in a funk the last few days.  However, the infinite stupidity of the Republicans has revived my spirits as of late.

Thanks, Paul (4.00 / 1)
These tables are a real eyeopener.  I suppose it stands to reason that as social spending increased from the New Deal to 1981, each cohort would become more accustomed to the idea, as well as in some measure enjoying the benefits. In addition, the problems have just grown worse or, in the case of the environment, become salient, over the past decades. 

These data really do go a long way to explain the GOP fetish with trying to dynamite Social Security as a way to get younger voters to turn against social spending in general, as well as their hysterical opposition to health care spending. 

I do still think the Reagan years saw a sea change in American attitudes, toward more greed and consumption and away from community and reform, but it was nowhere near as deep as the DC punditocrisy would have us believe.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

There Was A Definite Change In Public Discourse (0.00 / 0)
All you have to do is look at the TV shows--Dallas and Dynasty were the poster kids on that score--to see that there was a definite shift in terms of what was promoted.  And it certainly had an effect.  For example, consumer saving plummeted, thanks in part to the vast expansion of consumer card debt.

But I guess what these figures show is that even while people can get suckered into doing things that they know aren't really good for them in the long run, deep down their awareness is actually growing.  What's missing is the public articulation of view they can identify with, and use as a guide for action.  And this is where the silence of the Dems is particularly devastating.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
"Public articulation of a view they can identify with" (0.00 / 0)
This discussion reminds me that people are a lot more complex and even seemingly self-contradictory in their views than polls typically indicate.  I think Paul's analysis is generally correct, and also that the Reagan years did mark a transition to some deepening of mass delusion (trickle down economics and tax policy helps all of us; corruption and violence, presented with a warm, happy face; an intensification of mass mediated distraction and petty obsessions, etc.) that has, over time, yielded a high degree of cognitive dissonance, denial and confusion, and a more intensified level of self-contradiction and inner conflict.

In the realm of mass consciousness (including virtually all political mass media), there is precious little that's intended and capable of helping people untangle the mess of confusion and contradiction. In fact, the MSM has evolved into a very sophisticated system for maintaining confusion and political paralysis. At the same time, I think individuals do find ways to address some of this stuff within their daily lives and relationships.  We all are, after all, human beings with human needs.

I think Paul's last graf sums it up pretty well, especially the last two sentences:

"But I guess what these figures show is that even while people can get suckered into doing things that they know aren't really good for them in the long run, deep down their awareness is actually growing.  What's missing is the public articulation of view they can identify with, and use as a guide for action.  And this is where the silence of the Dems is particularly devastating."

To me, that articulation and its amplification and proliferation are the central piece of the jigsaw puzzle we are attempting to piece together.  They are not sufficient, but they're very, very necessary.  Without it, the puzzle can't really come into focus, and ultimately can't have very  much meaning.

[ Parent ]
Marvin Olasky (0.00 / 0)
Marvin Olasky coined the current usage of the term campassionate conservative.  Olasky, an adviser to Bush, shares some of W's background: born again, substance abuse (reformed), Texas, Yale education.  Olasky has pushed for the government to get out of social programs; social programs should be run by (and be the responsibility of) the Christian church.

Such a solution is certainly not campassionate and is probably not even conservative.

Olasky's books dated to the late 1980s and 1990s.  Newt gave a copy of one of them to all of the incoming freshmen of 1994.  Why this was not brought out front and center in the 2000 campaign is a mystery.  Certainly it is far more important than Bush giving nicknames to reporters.  That was covered ad nauseum.

There is a direct correlation between Bush's tax cuts and $190 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the veto of SCHIP and the failure of the infrastructure.  There is also a direct connection to the dismantling/privatization of FEMA and the failure of Bushism re Katrina (prevention/evacuation/relief/reconstruction, they failed at them all).

Make them pay at the polls.  If we elect 30 or 40 good progressives to the House come November 2008 it will at least do some good.

Olasky Is A Clown (4.00 / 2)
The problem with this is quite illustrative.

Throughout the 1980s, the right moved into overdrive in building its own "intellectual" infrastructure, and churning out "new idea," most of which were very old ideas in (somewhat) fancy new packaging.  And to the extent that the mainstream--or even, to a large extent liberal--establishment noticed, the attention was primarily on the level of process, not content.  This was particularly evident with Gingrich himself, when he created this cable broadcast college class to promote his conservative re-write of American history and political values.  He eventually was fined $300,000 by the House Ethics Committee, but the investigation was almost entirely procedural.  They made no real effort to look at the contents of what Newt was saying--contents which were absolutely bonkers.

Olasky is a similar case.  His claims about how well American compassion worked before the big bad government got involved are totally and utterly bogus.  Government got involved because private charity proved utterly and totally inadequate to deal with the mass poverty produced by laissez-faire robber baron capitalism. But, somehow, corporate journalists think it's a sin to pick a phone and call a real historian to ask if the latest piece of rightwing propaganda has any relationship at all to actual US history.

The mix of topics may have changed since Olasky first appeared on the scene, but the same structural/function assumtions are still in place, and thus we continue to operate in a fantasy environment with little or no relationship to reality.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Regulation (0.00 / 0)
Get me going on the birth of government regulation of business.  Please.  Monopolies.  Tainted food and drugs.  The railroads screwing the little guy and giving huge discounts to the new corporations.  Abuse of workers.  Widespread child labor.  Factory and mine accidents galore.  Pollution up the gazoo.

The progressive movement of the 1900-1920 period was born out of the very policies promoted by BushCo.  Only Bush has less of an excuse as he knows they have already failed.  Shame on him for his bring back McKinleyism views.  Shame on the media (especially the big foots ) for not bringing this out. 

I can go on about this one, too.

[ Parent ]
Spot on regarding Olasky ... (0.00 / 0)
...and may I urge you to crosspost this fabulous piece at Daily Kos?

[ Parent ]
Done Yesterday (0.00 / 0)
Right here.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Campassionate? (0.00 / 0)
Actually, I like it.

A "Campassionate Conservative" is a conservative pretending to be compassionate while campaigning (neatly combining campaign and compassionate) who then forgets all about the compassion after winning the elections.

Suits GWB to a T.

[ Parent ]
Compassionate Conservatives - Screwing You With a Smile (0.00 / 0)
Compassionate Conservative is framing that needs a brutal attack upon itself soon. The fact that any halfway viable Republican in 2008 will run on a related slogan (no, Thompson isn't viable, he's senile - which isn't the same, no matter what the 1984 election might suggest) is a perfect opportunity to launch a broadside at this idea.

With their record of hypocrisy, the only trouble is that there are too many targets.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
This can be a huge transformative issue (4.00 / 1)
that could and should be exploited by Dems to not only widen their majorities and win the presidency in '08, but help further transform the national consensus from one that favors conservative values, ideologies and policies, to one that favors progressive ones--in both perception (where it still lags, due to the media's continued insistence on pretending that Americans are still predominantly conservative despite poll after poll showing otherwise), and reality (where this has already begun to happen, as these polls show). And if they don't do this, shame on them.

I recently wrote a brief diary on DailyKos about this, regarding several people who called in on the Repub line on CSPAN's Washington Journal to express their disgust with the GOP over this issue. I regularly watch this show, and have been noting how more and more callers who call in on the Repub line are getting fed up with the GOP over this and other issues. They might not yet be calling themselves Dems--that's too much to expect of longtime Repubs--but they're clearly rejecting Repub values and policies in favor of ones that are clearly progressive, even if they don't refer to them as such.

A transformation is taking place, I believe, in the national consensus, not only on the big issues of our day, but in how Americans are viewing and thinking about these issues, and how to deal with them. The small government, low taxes, erosion of entitlements, militaristic, free trade, etc., conservative ideology made popular by Reagan and revived by Gingrich and then Bush II, is being widely rejected by Americans, who are coming back to embracing what can only be called a progressive (or New Deal Liberal) ideology--or rather approach to government, since ideology has become such a loaded term. And SCHIP is helping move this transformation along, as have Iraq, Katrina, Schiavo, illegal surveillance, torture, the failures of Greenspan's policies, etc.

And if Dems don't fully exploit this--in a serious, ethical way--then god help them.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

No. Gawd help us if they don't... (4.00 / 1)
...exploit this.

[ Parent ]
Amen (0.00 / 0)
I keep trying to convince myself that maybe they're just going through a difficult learning process, as they figure out one, how to be an effective governing majority, and two, that they are ultimately answerable to their constituents as well as to their biggest donors.

Should we pack them box lunches as they go to school on our dime?

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]

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