Saturday, October 20, 2007

Baron's Vote

There's been talk in the media about the recent vote made by Baron Hill on the SCHIP bill (the State Children's Health Insurance Program). According to the Seymour Tribune:
In Indiana, SCHIP helps pay for Hoosier Healthwise, which enrolls about 75,000 Indiana children from families earning up to twice the federal poverty level, a floating scale that’s $41,300 for a family of four. The bill vetoed by Bush would raise eligibility nationwide to four times the poverty level.

The bill would pay for the SCHIP expansion by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents per pack to $1. That’s separate from the 44-cents-per-pack increase in Indiana’s cigarette tax to 99.5 cents per pack on July 1.
Baron's reason for voting against the bill was because he also represents tobacco farmers in this area. Baron said that the bill "...should not be financed entirely by tobacco." I believe he is right. Here's why:

1. Our district is, after all, a farming district, and the farmers have been forgotten in the past. Baron is a supporter of farming.
2. The way the bill is to be funded is the problem, not the bill itself. Baron saw that, and realizes that you have to have a better way to fund this kind of legislation. This is the great irony of this kind of legislation. Why should you have a good bill, which will help many children, fund it with money from sales of tobacco, and then turn around in the same breath and say, "We want everyone to quit smoking. It's bad for you, and should be stopped"? If everyone stopped smoking, where would the money come from?

It is ridiculous to fund a bill to help children, and then try to dry up the source. It seems like grandstanding to me by a bunch of politicians just looking to get elected. Voting on this bill put Baron in a bad spot. His political enemies will try to capitalize on this, even though their party is always the first to vote no on anything that will help children.

Baron would like to find a better way to fund this legislation than an unsure source. If it can be found, this would be a great help to children in need. I believe he was right to vote against it, and believe he will help find a better way to fund it.

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