Still Lying

Bill Scher

In These Times and ThinkProgress had already taken the White House to task for pushing the lie that the SCHIP bill would raise the income eligibility limit to families earning $83,000 a year.

Of course, Bush is still saying it: “this program expands coverage, federal coverage up to families earning $83,000 a year. That doesn’t sound poor to me. The intent of the program was to focus on poor children, not adults or families earning up to $83,000 a year.”

And much of the media is in transcribe mode, and simply regurgitating Bush’s remarks without fact-checking.

As a guide for journalists, feel free follow the succinct example of Congressional Quarterly (sub. req’d):

“The intent of the program was to focus on poor children, not adults or families earning up to $83,000 a year,” he said.

But under current law, only the president can authorize states to use SCHIP to cover families earning $83,000, and Bush has declined to do so. The bill he vetoed would not change that procedure, and would discourage states from expanding SCHIP to families making three times the federal poverty level or more — $61,950 for a family of four.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, who helped write the bill Bush vetoed, said he planned to call House Republicans to urge them to vote for an override.

“I don’t intend to exert influence,” he said. “I intend to use rationale, particularly to overcome either the wholly wrong or intellectually dishonest arguments that were used against [the bill].”

Bush’s claim that the bill would allow coverage of families making $83,000, he said, was one example of such an argument.

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