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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

New Kids Health Care Bill Has Public Support

Good News for Democrats, as well as America’s kids. The U.S. House of Reps. has passed legislation providing health care coverage for 4+ million uninsured children in low-income families. The legislation which passed by a vote of 225-204 (10 Dems opposed, 5 Republicans supporting), also prevents cuts in Medicare payments to physicians and is partly financed by a 45 cent per pack increase in the federal cigarette tax (NYT coverage here).
Of course President Bush has threatened a veto, should similar legislation pass the Senate, which will provide a clear demonstration of which party gets it that health security — especially for all American children — is a cornerstone of true national security. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-MD) said it well: “If America is the greatest country in the world, then all of our children should have health insurance.”
Despite Bush’s threatened veto, the principles undergirding the legislation enjoy the support of the American people, explains Ruy Teixeira, in his recent post on the topic at The Century Foundation‘s web pages:

The public, on the other hand, seems very supportive of expanding health coverage for children and even thinks that we should make such coverage universal. A June Democracy Corps poll last month found that almost half the public—47 percent—chose “expand health coverage to every child in the U.S. through the existing State Children’s Health Insurance Program” as one of the top two priorities that Congress should focus on in the coming year. They chose this more than they chose any other option, including immigration reform (36 percent), promoting alternative energy and energy conservation (29 percent), reforming the alternative minimum tax (29 percent), reforming lobbying (15 percent), and putting labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (15 percent).
One objection that has been made to the proposed bills is that increased cigarette taxes would provide some of the funding for the program expansion. Would that faze the public? Not according to a May 2007 CNN poll. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of the public surveyed said they would favor “a national health insurance program for all children under the age of 18, even if this would require higher taxes,” compared to just 25 percent who dissented.

Back in January, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, joined by a group of children of House members, called the House to order, “in the name of America’s children.” Predictably, the GOP accused her of grandstanding. Apparently she meant business.

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