This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
How can a U.S. senator go wrong opposing an unpopular, lame-duck president who has alienated not only many Americans but a good number of his fellow Republicans?
Well, we're talking about Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has long been a seeing-eye supporter of President Bush's policies - that is, until the president threatened the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Now, Hatch has his back up in defense of CHIP, a program he originally championed that has proven to be an excellent and efficient way to protect the health of the children of working families who can't afford health insurance.
We can only say: Right on, senator!
To his great credit, Hatch is solidly behind a bipartisan compromise bill to reauthorize CHIP despite Bush's promise to veto any legislation that goes beyond the measly $5 billion funding increase over five years that The Decider deems sufficient. Hatch is pushing a $35 billion increase for CHIP over five years that would extend coverage to 4 million more needy children.
The House is scheduled to vote on that compromise bill Tuesday.
Hatch, in his new role, went so far as to call Bush on the red herring the president raised in defense of his indefensible opposition. The compromise legislation, Bush claimed, would cover the children of families making $83,000 a year!
The senator calmly pointed out that the president was "absolutely wrong."
Tell it, Orrin!
Bush has characterized CHIP as an "incremental step" toward government-run health care for all Americans. Hatch parried that any health-care bill could be thusly criticized.
You go, senator!
We should point out that for Utah's senior senator to direct any naysaying toward the White House falls somewhere between a rarity and the unheard-of. But Hatch has picked the right ground to fight on.
There are few, if any, more deserving causes than CHIP. The state-federal program provides health coverage to more than 6 million of the neediest Americans, and must be expanded to cover more.
CHIP is the only safety net for these children, whose illnesses and injuries otherwise would be treated in pricey emergency rooms (which Bush is on record as approving), with the bills coming due to all Americans in higher taxes and insurance premiums.
We urge all of Congress to follow Hatch's lead and reauthorize CHIP by a margin that will justly rip Bush's veto pen out of his hand.