Monday, October 15, 2007

Is the SCHIP Controversy As Good For The Dems As It Seems?

So, on this whole children's insurance thing that the Democrats are fighting (some*) Republicans over. The standard wisdom amongst commentators seems to be that this is a political boon for the Democrats, to be able to portray the Republicans as being against children's health care. And I can see how that might play well, but I also see how it might not.

After all, despite a Republican President and Congress inheriting a balanced budget and then creating the biggest deficit in US history, the Republicans still run campaigns as if they are fiscally responsible and the Democrats are "tax and spenders." But that's been bullshit for years now. In truth, both parties are now 'borrow and spenders,' and the main difference is in what they will spend all that money on, not how much they will spend.

Now, the Democrats have been, in fairness, a little more fiscally responsible in the years since Bush Sr., with Clinton leading the charge to balance the budget and fighting against tax cuts at times when spending is increasing. But not much.

And now, the Democrats have the opportunity, given the massive spending of the current regime and former Republican congress, to expose what a farce the Republican claims of being for "small government" and "fiscal responsibility" are. But I think, maybe, just maybe, they are squandering that opportunity by harping on this SCHIP thing.

After all, by making an issue out of how the Republicans don't want to spend more money, even though it is on children's health insurance, the Democrats may be reinforcing in the minds of the people that the real battle here is the age old one: Dems want to spend money and Repubs don't. And, while it is doubtful that the image of Republicans as being against children's health will play after the conclusion of this particular battle, the feeling that the Democrats are still for taxing and spending may.

I'm just saying that it might not be wise to squander the long-term political gain -- exposing Republicans for being as prolific in spending money as the Democrats -- for the short-term gain of painting Republicans as anti-child.

I'm not as sure about this as I am a lot of the things I post here. It's a thought, but I'm not sure if it's a good one or not. We'll see, I suppose. Comments welcome.

* To be fair, lots of Republicans voted for the SCHIP bill and it has a great deal of bi-partisan support, though a solid contigent of Republicans still oppose it.


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