It’s been more than two months since Congress let the Children’s Health Care Program expire. Co-sponsored by Republican Orrin Hatch when introduced in 1997, CHIP now provides health insurance for nearly nine million kids and 320,000 pregnant women nationwide.
As it would happen, Senator Hatch also helped push through what might turn out to be one of the most destructive bills in modern American history last Friday: a $1.5 trillion tax cut, aimed at appeasing corporations and the wealthy donor class, that will drive up the deficit by $1 trillion over the next decade.
While debating the Senate Republicans’ monstrosity of a tax bill on Thursday, Hatch was asked by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio why CHIP, a program that costs $8 billion, still hasn’t been reauthorized and funded. Get a load of this response (emphasis mine):
But let me tell you something. We’re going to do CHIP, there’s no question about it in my mind. It has to be done the right way. But we—the reason CHIP is having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore. We just add more and more spending and more and more spending, and you can look at the rest of the bill for the more and more spending.
Hatch also had some particularly grotesque concerns about reauthorizing CHIP—and all the other social welfare programs that “millions of people” allegedly take advantage of (emphasis mine):
I happen to think CHIP has done a terrific job for people who really needed the help. I have taken the position around here my whole Senate service. I believe in helping those who cannot help themselves but would if they could. I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything. Unfortunately, the liberal philosophy has created millions of people that way who believe everything they are or ever hope to be depend upon the federal government rather than the opportunities that this great country grants them.
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This is, of course, Hatch’s way of describing the myth of the welfare queen—which Donald Trump has also help resurrect throughout the tax reform debate. Hatch pledged to “see that [CHIP] gets through” at the same time, which is bizarre.
While Republicans drag their feet funding a program that they very well could end up not reauthorizing, several states are already preparing to alert thousands of families that their kids are no longer covered by CHIP.
Minnesota has officially run out of CHIP funds, as Governing magazine reported on Sunday. Arizona, California, Oregon, Ohio, and DC, are expected to run out of CHIP funds in early 2018. Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Washington, and Utah (Hatch’s state), are also expected to drain their CHIP funding by February.
You can watch Hatch’s comments below: