Tuesday, October 16, 2007



We don't know a lot of people in Macon, and many of the ones we do know (now) work at the Macon Telegram, the daily newspaper there that moved heaven and earth to make sure our full page ad citizen financed public service announcement about Jim Marshall's intention to vote against Children's health insurance again got into the paper today. But we do know a blogger activist in Macon, Amy Morton, who normally posts at Georgia Women Vote. Today, though, I noticed a post she did for Tondee's Tavern, the state of Georgia's definitive political blog.

Amy has an analysis of what Georgia loses if Marshall goes through with his threat to vote with the GOP to sustain Bush's veto of S-CHIP against his constituents' interests. "If this bill passes, Georgia will get over $400 million in federal funds every year-- that's $240 million more than was provided under the original program. Take a look at the figures and tell me how anyone-- anyone-- representing Georgia could possibly fail to vote for this legislation."

The good news is that the ad you've been helping us finance ran. Macon is in the heart of the district and the paper covers a 60 mile radius from there, especially in Bibb and Houston Counties. The ad will be seen by approximately 106,000 of Marshall's constituents. In 2006, approximately 158,000 people voted and Marshall's margin of victory was less than 2,000 votes, the second closest call for a Democratic incumbents anywhere in the country. If he votes with Bush Thursday-- counting on extreme right Republicans to support him against an actual Republican-- he will be giving the Democratic base a good reason to abstain from voting in his race. He doesn't deserve support from people who believe in Democratic values. He's proven that again and again and again on issue after issue. Fellow reactionaries Baron Hill and Mike McIntyre have already reassessed their positions and declared they will vote with the rest of the Democrats to override Bush's cruel and heartless veto. What the hell is wrong with Jim Marshall? Does he just hate children?

Listen again to the telephone campaign 40,000 of Marshall's Democratic constituents heard last week. Take a look at the ad we ran. And think about making a contribution to help us pay for them. Thanks-- working for a better America-- everywhere.


Marshall, Gene Taylor and Bob Etheridge, the only Democrats still supporting Bush's veto of children's health care, are quoting Republican Party talking points to defend themselves from the anger of their constituents who rightly expect a Democratic representative to at least vote for the well-being of innocent children. Families USA is a national organization for health care consumers is trying to dispel the lies and distortions emanating from the White House and from John Boehner's office. The first lie-- repeated every few moments by the GOP Noise Machine at Hate Talk Radio-- is that passing S-CHIP will mean a government takeover of the health care industry.
·         The vetoed bill simply continues a program that has worked well for the past 10 years and extends coverage to uninsured children in low-income families who are currently eligible for it. Children enrolled in CHIP receive their care through private plans, mostly managed care, and are treated by private doctors and hospitals.

·         The bill is supported by organizations such as America's Health Insurance Plans (which represents the health insurance industry), PhRMA (which represents the pharmaceutical industry), and the American Medical Association-- organizations with long histories of opposing government-controlled health care.

·         The key Republicans who crafted this compromise bill with leading Democrats, Senators such as Orrin Hatch (UT), Chuck Grassley (IO), and Pat Roberts (KS), are strong opponents of a government takeover of the health industry.

·         CHIP has always been, and will continue to be, a block grant that is administered by each of the states. This means its funding is capped at a specific amount each year that may not be exceeded. It is not an entitlement program, and it is carefully confined to cover a portion of uninsured children whose families can't otherwise obtain health coverage.

"As key Republican Senators have told the President, it is high time that he and his advisors read the bill," said Pollack. "They either have chosen to remain uninformed, or they are purposely repeating falsehoods. America's children deserve much better than that."

The second most parroted of the Republican lies on this is that it expands eligibility to rich children. Suddenly Bush and Limbaugh and Hannity and Boehner don't like rich children and are working hard for the poor. If this wasn't so tragic it would be laughable.
·         This bill does NOT change which children are eligible for CHIP. States have always had the flexibility to set CHIP eligibility at whatever level they deem appropriate for their state. CHIP is not a one-size-fits-all program, and eligibility levels vary widely from state to state. The bill preserves that flexibility.

·         Claims by the President that this bill raises the CHIP eligibility level to $83,000 (400 percent of the federal of the poverty level) in annual income are unambiguously false. There isn't a single state in the country with such a high eligibility level. One state, New York, wanted to set the eligibility standard at that level, but its request to do so was denied by the Administration.

·         The CHIP bill will make it more difficult for states to set eligibility levels above 300 percent of poverty (approximately $62,000 in annual income for a family of four). States wishing to establish higher levels would receive less money for children with incomes above 300 percent than for lower-income children.

·         The vast majority of the 3.8 million children who will gain coverage under this bill-- more than 75%-- have incomes below twice the poverty level. That's $41,300 for a family of four.
"Insurance premiums for family health coverage now average more than $12,000 a year," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. "These costs are simply unaffordable for millions of working families, especially those that would receive the most help for their children under this bill. It is cruel for the President to deny coverage to these kids and to offer a disingenuous reason for his veto."

The third-- the one that Marshall can't repeat enough, as though he's auditioning for Hate Talk Radio himself-- is that the bill spends too much and represents irresponsible budgeting. Yes, and we've all seen how concerned Bush and the Republicans-- and their handful of reactionary Democratic allies like Marshall, Taylor and Etheridge-- have been about balancing budgets. And it's a lie.
·         This bill will not increase the federal deficit. It is fully financed by a 61 cent per pack increase in the tobacco tax.

·         Using a tobacco tax to pay for expanded children's health coverage is doubly beneficial; it will pay for the health care of low-income children in need, and it will prevent approximately 2 million children from smoking.

·         The President's budget-- which would add only $5 billion to CHIP over the next five years-- is truly irresponsible budgeting. It fails to account for the increasing cost of health care over the next five years, and it would cause nearly half a million children who are currently enrolled in the CHIP program to lose coverage. Astoundingly, it would do nothing to cover any of the millions of children who lack health insurance today.

"At the same time that the Bush Administration opposes new funding for CHIP, it is seeking $190 billion in funding for the Iraq war," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. "In so doing, it proposes to spend more money in two weeks for Iraq than it is to spend in a full year for America's children. This is clearly a misplaced priority that deserves to be changed."

And, of course, the reactionaries are trying to claim that the program helps-- God forbid-- "illegal aliens." It doesn't.
·         This bill does not cover undocumented immigrants. Indeed, it perpetuates the denial of coverage to legal immigrants who haven't been in the country for five years.

·         It explicitly prohibits the use of any federal funding to cover undocumented immigrants. Section 605 of the bill states:  "NO FEDERAL FUNDING FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS. Nothing in this Act allows Federal payment for individuals who are not legal residents."

·         The bill retains the requirement that citizenship be verified for all individuals applying for Medicaid, and it extends this requirement to CHIP. It allows states to use Social Security databases to verify this information.
"Not only does this bill not cover undocumented immigrants, it actually penalizes legal immigrants by not allowing them access to the program unless they have been in the country for at least five years," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. "This is another example of the many false statements he's made about the CHIP program."

Speaker Pelosi's office made very similar points. She would sound a lot more credible if she acknowledged that it isn'y only Republicans who are the problem.


A proponent of the most extreme right fringe of the Georgia Republican Party endorsed Jim Marshall (D-GA)-- or at least his anti-family S-CHIP votes-- and viciously attacked Blue America today on the Georgia blog PeachPundit. Erick Erickson was the author of Georgia's latest Jim Crow anti-democracy legislation designed to prevent people from voting. Funny to hear him laying out a strategy for putative Democrat Marshall to win re-election by attacking citizens who favor something so radical as health care for children, which is supported by 72% of Americans and half the Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

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