Friday, October 12, 2007

And The Children Shall Bleed

Maybe it's easy for me to say this, but if Bush wanted to veto this socialist monstrosity, and he had valid and compelling reasons for it, why did he go into hiding to do so? It reminds me of how Bill Clinton locked himself in a closet and climbed upside down in a sleeping bag with a flashlight to sign the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The difference being Clinton didn't support the bill he was signing, but only did so because Dick Morris told him he had to to get re-elected. Did Dubya want to sign dictatorSCHIP but get pressured into vetoing it? If so, by whom, given that so many craven Pachyderms went into the tank and caved to the Donks?

Oh, wait, let me guess - he didn't want to rock the boat now that Iraq is going his way (the ubiquituous excuse for every Bush "duck & cover" these days), but objected to the bill, so he vetoed it quietly. Like the Dems will let THAT remain the case.
-Me, a week ago

The Dems didn't wait long to crank up the pathetic demogoguery, did they? Mark Steyn didn't take long to notice and call it for what it is, either:
This would seem to be a fairly typical media trajectory. The Democrats sign up a sick kid to read their Saturday morning radio address. As Paul Krugman has observed, Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of us heartless bastards on the right were no doubt too busy laughing to pay attention. But the respectable media were very taken by it.
The "sick kid" was twelve-year-old Graeme Frost of Baltimore, MD. The Enemy Media dutifully relayed the Donks' standard cherry-picked background narrative:
President Bush, are you smarter than a seventh-grader?
Apparently not. Graeme Frost of Baltimore is twelve years old, a seventh-grader at the Park School, and he understands why children need health care and their parents need help paying for it. He explained it during a rebuttal to the President's Saturday radio address. Yes, we know, Senate staffers wrote the speech for Graeme. That doesn't take away from the message. Does anyone really think President Bush writes his own material?

~ ~ ~

Bonnie Frost works for a medical publishing firm; her husband, Halsey, is a woodworker. They are raising their four children on combined income of about $45,000 a year. Neither gets health insurance through work.
Yuk, yuk. The Baltimore Sun takes another cheap shot at Bush's intelligence, as though the efficacy of dishonestly enslaving the Middle Class to the nanny state were pre-emptively self-evident, while the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tells its readers only what they think they need to know.

The "columnist to the world" filled in the rest of the story. And it, too, is as drearily predictable as you had no reason not to expect:
"icwhatudo" at Free Republic, however, showed rather more curiosity than the professional reporter paid to investigate the story and did a bit of Googling. Mr Frost, the "woodworker", owns his own design company and the commercial property it operates from, part of which space he also rents out; they have a 3,000-sq-ft home on a street where a 2,000-sq-ft home recently sold for half a million dollars; he was able to afford to send two children simultaneously to a $20,000-a-year private school; his father and grandfather were successful New York designers and architects; etc. This is apparently the new definition of "working families".
They also have a not-exactly-inexpensive trio of vehicles sitting in the driveway of that 3,000 square foot home.

The picture quickly begins to fill in, doesn't it? The Frosts are an ambitious couple who, not unlike a large portion of the American public, unfortunately, resolved to adapt the standard of living to which they aspired before they had attained the means of supporting it.

Just to provide a bit of personal perspective, I have owned my own private medical insurance policy for the past eighteen years, regardless of employer-provided coverage (of which there has always been some when either of us was employed), as a backup against the loss of such coverage. My family's income is just under twice what the lib press claim for the Frosts, yet my house is approximately 60% smaller; we own one fewer vehicle, and the younger of the two is approaching the end of its first decade. We did send our two kids to private school in their primary years (without any scholarships or outside assistance), but opted out when the oldest entered junior high.

Consequently, I think it's safe to say that my household has and is far more prudent and fiscally responsible than the Frosts'. That doesn't make us "better" than them; but it does mean we're better positioned to absorb financial setbacks than they are. Which they have evidently already suffered:
Had it not been for a federal health insurance program tailored for working families such as hers - ones lacking the income to purchase private health insurance - Frost is certain that she and her husband would be buried under a mound of unpaid medical bills... She and her husband have priced private health insurance, but they say it would cost them more per month than their mortgage - about $1,200 a month. Neither parent has health insurance through work.
Leave aside the fact that the Bush Administration proposed a substantial increase in SCHIP funding, and is not going, nor ever threatened to, "take it away". Doesn't that monthly premium figure sound a bit high to you? One of my hats at my day job is employee benefit administration, and $1,200 is more than my employer pays per employee for full family coverage on its group plan (which for the Frosts' age demographic is always more than an individual plan), much less just kiddie coverage.

It looked odd to Bob Vineyard as well:
A check of a quote engine for zip code 21250 (Baltimore) finds a plan for $641 with a $0 deductible and $20 doc copays. Adding a deductible of $750 (does not apply to doc visits) drops the premium to $452. That's almost a third of the price quoted in the article. Doesn't anyone bother to check the facts?
Alright, here's the financial setback I teased above: the Frosts were apparently in an automobile accident three years ago and two of their kids (the other was their daughter, Gemma) were seriously injured. The reason they were enrolled in SCHIP is because their parents, like a lot of the so-called "uninsured" in this country, chose not to purchase medical insurance, most likely because they had their business to build and their expensive toys to buy and never thought that anything bad would ever happen to them. After the accident, they belatedly recognized the need for health care insurance, but, of course, at that point $450 or $650 premiums were no longer attainable. And heaven forbid that they raise some cash by selling their GMC Suburban, or tapping the quarter-million equity in that aforementioned 3,000 square foot home; no, that might affect the lifestyle to which they're "entitled." And why should they have to when one of Uncle Sam's nipples is right there for the suckling?

Is that a harsh assessment? Does that make me one of the "mean, hypocritical internet mob" that, to quote the aforelinked Double-M, "challeng[es] the wisdom of taking money away from taxpayers of lesser means who are responsible enough to buy insurance before a catastrophic event in order to subsidize two-property, three-car families with four children in private schools and two parents who work 'intermittently' and 'part-time' who didn’t have the foresight or priorities to purchase insurance before a tragic auto accident"? Heck, I was already in that category before I started this post.

But one of Michelle's emailers - purportedly a neighbor of the Frosts - seems to confirm my take:
They’re good people. Terribly misguided, pathetically leftist buffoons, but still good people. It was a terrible accident and Bonnie is quite beat up with guilt over the events. Lots of neighbors pitched in to cook meals and help out… Bonnie works half time doing freelance editorial work and Halsey, an incredibly disorganized lovable goofball, just can’t seem to hold down a proper job or, when he’s tried, to run a proper company. He’s a millwork carpenter and does great work installing custom interior and exterior trimwork and cabinetry. He should be making great money but can’t get out of his way…

…Still, we make choices, right? They have three vehicles - a nice new Volvo SUV, a Suburban, and his F250 Ford Pickup work truck, a nice house, and all four kids go to private school. Not sure where the money comes from, but they don’t make all that much. Should they be the poster child for S-CHIP? Heck no….
And THAT is the point of the scrutiny being directed at the Frosts. Nobody denies that the accident that befell them is tragic; any rudimentarily decent parent can sympathize with almost losing one child, much less two. Which, along with his folks being "misguided, pathetically leftist buffoons," is why the Democrats enlisted twelve-year-old Graeme as their latest public relations human shield. But if they are going to engage in the same old tiresome "Child Manipulation Syndrome" and subsume serious policy debate beneath melodramatic cries of, "WHY DO YOU HATE CHILDREN SO MUCH?!?", those of us who do not want to see our private health care insurance (for OUR children) submarined out from underneath us by such honorless, despicable tactics on behalf of a HillaryCare trojan horse (nearly half of whose grants in the next fiscal year will go to adults) would be intellectually negligent not to fill in the blanks that illustrate precisely why "incredibly disorganized goofballs" do not deserve, and should not receive, space in the federal social safety hammock at the expense of the truly needy.

In any case, the Frosts aren't going to lose their SCHIP coverage either way, so they're not exactly interested parties to this particular policy dispute. Which, in turn, goes to further illustrate the utter bankruptcy of the Dems' position - as though plopping a seventh-grader in front of a Donk microphone to insult and lie about the President of the United States wasn't already indellible proof of it.

As a post-scriptual riposte to the "sliming" of young Graeme that questioning his parents' judgment supposedly is, check out Jon Henke's reminiscence about Noah McCullough, the nine-year-old boy who "lobbied" Congress two and a half years ago in favor of genuine Social Security reform, and got torn limb from limb by the hard left, including actual physical threats. Also Michelle Malkin's trip in the Wayback Machine to past Donk poster pod people, some of whom were a lot more morally compromised than the "poor" Frost family.

UPDATE: Rick Moran captures the philosophical difference in two pregnant words:
The struggle here is not over little Graeme Frost who no one has criticized or smeared. The ideological battle over “need” and “want” is what is at issue.
If the Democrats succeed in conflating the two in the minds of the American electorate, the Republic is, indeed, doomed.