If President Bush follows through on his tough line on health insurance for children, it leaves him less room to accommodate a farm bill he doesn't like and is strangely funded, I think.
Mr. Bush comes to this fight with an understanding of how Schip has played out in the states, which is why his administration recently instituted reforms to the program that aim to restrict eligibility to those it was originally intended to serve -- the truly needy -- and not provide an incentive for middle class parents to drop their private health insurance. Moreover, he has threatened to veto federal legislation that would allow states to expand their Schip programs.
It would be easy for Mr. Bush to give in on this fight. He is, after all, in the twilight of his administration. But next month, he'll square off against Congress to oppose an incremental advance of socialized medicine. We are fortunate he is today willing to do so at a time when Republicans in his home state were quick to abandon the fight. [More]
I mean, think about a"legacy" of scrimping on kids and porking it out to farmers - which is how political opponents will certainly frame it. And I still think his pattern of rewarding loyalty will help him back up Sec. Johanns - who has carried the White House message faithfully - with a farm bill veto unless it contains significant reform.