SCHIP vote doesn’t add up

In a letter to KSTP on Oct. 12, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann asked the station to stop airing an ad which said the congresswoman would rather spend money on the war in Iraq than on health insurance for children. Paid for by Americans United for Change, the ad lobbied Minnesotans in Bachmann’s district to question her stance against the pending State Children’s Health Insurance Program legislation.

Despite Bachmann’s protests, the ad only stopped running the day Congress failed to override President George W. Bush’s veto.

The ad challenged Bachmann’s previous vote against SCHIP and referenced her approval of Iraq war funding – “Bush and Bachmann would rather send half a trillion to Iraq than spend a fraction here at home to keep our kids healthy.”

The Bachmann for Congress Committee responded that the ad is “provably false.” Of the “half a trillion” spent in Iraq, the committee asserts, “only 20 percent of that funding has been passed since Congresswoman Bachmann was elected to Congress.”

The proposed SCHIP bill would have provided an additional 35 billion for uninsured children. Though previously unqualified families would have been able to have their children covered by the program, these people, regardless of President Bush’s objections, were not undeserving.

According to the Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota, there are 79,000 children without health insurance in Minnesota. Between 2001 and 2004, the state level of uninsured children ages birth to five grew by 11,000 young children.

The number of uninsured will continue to increase in Minnesota and across the rest of the United States as health-care premiums rise, wages stay the same, unemployment grows and jobs with adequate pay or benefits become scarcer. Many more still have private health care and are considered middle-class, yet they struggle to pay premiums and related costs.

Although the ad was extreme, the truth is that 20 percent of “half a trillion” is still 100 billion.