The negotiations over extending President Barack Obama’s protections for “dreamers” (illegal immigrants who came here as children with their parents) have reached a point where they expose the distorted priorities that dominate the new Democratic Party.
The revelation comes as two key deadlines loom: On March 6, Congress must produce an immigration solution for dreamers or President Donald Trump will rescind their protections.
And the funding for CHIP — the Children’s Health Insurance Program — needs to be renewed as state after state is exhausting their budgets for this program that provides coverage for uninsured children.
Now, the Democrats are threatening to let CHIP funding expire (as part of a government shutdown) unless and until Republicans agree to amnesty for the dreamers. (Republicans are willing to go along with some form of amnesty but in return for greater border security — including a wall on the border).
So the Dems have a choice: Fund health insurance for American children or deny them the program until illegal immigrants are given amnesty.
Trump campaigned on a slogan of “America First,” but it now appears that the Democrats and liberals are putting American children second and dealing first with those who came here illegally.
Of course, so much of this is political maneuvering and most likely the parties will reach a deal protecting dreamers in return for immigration reform, but the fact that the Democrats are using children’s health insurance as leverage shows how far they have strayed from their original priorities.
CHIP, a program on whose creation I worked during the Clinton Administration, plugged a huge gap in our health care safety net.
The entire debate over Obamacare has focused not on children (because they were covered by CHIP) nor on the poor (covered by Medicaid) nor on the elderly (protected by Medicare) but on adults who were not poor or old.
CHIP originated after the failure of Hillary Clinton’s health reform plan in 1994.
In a meeting with President Bill Clinton, we discussed taking the needs of children off the table even as Hillary’s broader coverage plans fell short.
The president said that it would cost about $10 billion to cover children and I endeavored, successfully, to find much of that money in the attorney generals’ lawsuit against tobacco companies and in the budget deal then under negotiation with Sen. Trent Lott and House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
And so the program was born and America’s children do not have to face the start of their lives without health insurance.
For the Democrats to endanger their safety by using them as pawns in bargaining over illegal immigration is a disgrace not worthy of their party.
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