Thursday, September 27, 2007

C-J editorialists disappointed in Hill

The C-J editorial board dropped a bomb on Baron Hill this morning, complaining that he voted against S-CHIP to support his tobacco constituents.

Only eight Democrats joined President Bush in opposing the humanitarian bill, which the President has threatened to veto. Sadly, Southern Indiana's Baron Hill was one of those.

Predictably, Mr. Hill was joined in opposing coverage for children who need it, under a reauthorized State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), by Kentucky Republicans Hal Rogers, Ron Lewis, Geoff Davis and Ed Whitfield...

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says "the President will find himself alone" if he vetoes this legislation. But apparently he will have Baron Hill, Geoff Davis, Ron Lewis, Hal Rogers and Ed Whitfield with him, on the dark side.

This outcome is interesting on many levels.

Hill cast the right vote but for two wrong reasons. First, he supports S-CHIP and "wants to vote for it". But aside from the dubious merits of government-provided health insurance/care, there is no reason for this to be a federal effort.

Second, he voted against S-CHIP because it would be financed solely on the backs of tobacco farmers. And a reasonable argument can be made-- that this is not appropriate. But Hill motivates this point by saying that tobacco farmers are his constituents-- rather than simply saying it's the right thing to do. Practically, this is not wise, since children are a larger and far more sympathetic "constituency" (although they make fewer campaign contributions and can't vote). And ethically, how can one defend this policy-- just to help a narrow constituency? (I blogged on this earlier.)

The other funny thing is that the C-J'ers are upset with their man! They thought so much of Hill that they supported him over Sodrel, an incumbent they respected somewhat. They thought so much of Hill-- and so little of me-- that they gave me one parenthetical sentence, while devoting an entire column of print to Hill. They were so enamored with Hill-- and thus listened so little to me-- that they, amazingly, printed a misconception I had just corrected about the supposedly regressive nature of a flat tax. They liked Hill because he was independent-- and now that he exhibits that independence, the C-J starts crying about it and saying he is "on the dark side".


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