Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Another SCHIP Family Smeared

Stalkin’ Malkin and her merry band of Malkintents* are at it again, smearing 2-year-old Bethany Wilkerson just as they did Graeme Frost.

It would be one thing to write this off as the unhinged rantings of the loony right, except that it appears where SCHIP is concerned (and probably other issues, too), they are acting as the goon squad for Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office.

If you don’t know Bethany’s story by now then I urge you to follow the links above. The purpose of this post is to call attention to Joan Walsh’s coverage, which highlights the broader implications of the SCHIP smears--issues that got lost in the Graeme Frost “Freeper stalkergate” sideshow.

As Walsh and others have noted, right-wing bloggers have painted themselves into a pretty corner on this one. They got the issue wrong and in the process were exposed as a bunch of blind GOP attack dogs ready to set their teeth into whichever victim the GOP leadership set before them. Walsh writes:
The particular way the wingnuts have come at the SCHIP debate -- demonizing the families of kids who are using it -- shows how little they understand the way the ground has shifted beneath them. No one is saying the parents of Graeme Frost or Bethany Wilkerson are poor; SCHIP isn't for the poor. It's for working families having a hard time finding affordable health insurance. Defining which families, at what income level, are eligible is up to the states. (Remember when conservatives used to like leaving things up to the states?) I don't want to stigmatize people on welfare, or set up a category of people who are "more deserving" of government help, but since right-wingers tend to think that way, let me spell it out: SCHIP is overwhelmingly used by the children of working parents whose jobs don't offer health insurance. The children of people on welfare are eligible for Medicaid. Reasonable people can disagree about the income level at which SCHIP eligibility should be phased out, but Bush and his supporters are lying when they say they oppose the expansion bill because it neglects low-income families; in fact it prioritizes enrolling low-income families, and would eliminate support for less-disadvantaged families in states that don't target the lowest income.

This has left the right-wingers with a pretty bizarre argument: the Frost family was supposed to sell their house to pay for their children’s hospitalization and then live out of their car; the Wilkersons shouldn’t have “chosen” to have kids. But wait, I thought “It’s a child, not a choice!”

The attack dogs on the right are going down in flames on this one, and they know it. Sounding the “socialized medicine!” alarm isn’t working because that's saying the current system with insurance companies and HMOs is working so well ... which we all know it’s not. Arguing that SCHIP keeps the poor, beleaguered insurance companies from making enough money isn’t exactly a winner, but it’s not even true: most states contract with private insurance companies to administer their CHIP programs. In Tennessee, for example, CoverKids, our SCHIP program, is administered by BlueCross BlueShield.

So what we're left with is an argument against helping children and for corporate welfare. Hmm, not exactly a winner. The rabid attack dogs of the right are going after 2-year-olds so viciously because they hope we won't notice their empty argument in the ensuing skirmish. This has worked in the past numerous times, but it won't work now because this is an issue that hits home for far too many American families

So, keep it Malkin-Coulter-Limbaugh-etc. etc. You dig your grave deeper with every smear.

* “Malkintents” term coined by a group of Atriots at Eschaton who are far cleverer than me. Used by permission.