In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Senate Passes $1.4 Trillion Tax Bill But Can't Fund Children's Health Insurance

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During the debate on the tax bill Thursday night, Democrats lambasted Republicans for prioritizing the tax overhaul over children’s health insurance, and demanding offsets to pay for the latter but not the former. In response, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), one of the original authors of CHIP in 1997, vowed that Congress will reauthorize the program, but blamed the shortfall in its funding not on congressional dithering or expensive corporate tax cuts, but on other social safety net programs.

“We’re going to do CHIP. There’s no question about it in my mind,” he said. “But we, the reason CHIP’s having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore. We just add more and more spending and more and more spending. I happen to think CHIP has done a terrific job for people who really need the help. I believe in helping those who cannot help themselves, but would if they could. But I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, who won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.”

Though Republican leaders have promised that Congress will vote to waive its own rules and avoid deep automatic cuts to Medicare and other federal programs that would otherwise have been trigger by the tax bill’s largesse, Hatch’s remarks and those of other lawmakers signal a strong desire in the GOP to go after the social safety net in the months to come.

The House version of the CHIP bill that passed in early November, for example, pays for CHIP by cutting $5 billion in funding from Obamacare’s prevention and public health fund. In a recent stump speech in Missouri, President Trump vowed to tackle “welfare reform” in 2018. And several Republicans in Congress have suggested that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are on the horizon.

About The Author

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Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.