“The test of greatness for a nation is how it cares for its children.” — Ted Kennedy on the bipartisan support for SCHIP.

…And George Bush just failed that test by vetoing SCHIP. 

SCHIP is an issue of morality and decency for poor children in America — SCHIP enjoys broad, bipartisan support because it is the right thing to do for kids in need.  As Sen. Kennedy says, imagine being a hardworking American parent who is making $30,000 a year and trying to raise your kids, and laying in bed at night listening to your child cough or wheeze or cry in the night, and then wondering if you have the money to get the care needed if your child doesn’t get better on her own.

What does George Bush say to that?  (H/T Atrios

“The immediate goal is to make sure there are more people on private insurance plans.  I mean, people have access to health care in America.  After all, just go to an emergency room.

Thanks, Ebenezer — we’ll get right on that workhouses concept.  I am missing Ann Richards more than ever today.  How is it that a man can grow up in this country and have no concept or curiosity about how children in “the other half” live?  Let alone lead the entire nation down a silver-spoon strewn path and think that is the norm.   

How, exactly, are people working two or three minimum wage jobs and barely paying rent on top of their bills going to afford that extra $600 or more a month, let alone the $2,000 or more deductible, for a basic family health insurance planas things stand currently?  And is that the fault of these children that their parents are barely scraping by?  Should we just say “screw the poor kids” even if it has a long-term cost-benefit for every taxpayer to have intervention early through preventative medicine instead of reactive worst-case care?

From the AFL-CIO blog:

Bush refused to listen to many leading Republican lawmakers who joined with nearly every Democrat in the House and Senate who voted to reauthorize the program.

The president ignored the 4 million additional children who would be eligible for health care coverage under the reauthorization—joining the 6.6 million already enrolled.

He disregarded the 81 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents and 61 percent of Republicans who told an ABC News-Washington Post poll they support the $35 billion increase in the bill so more children get health coverage.

He vetoed the children’s health bill two days after he declared Oct. 1 as Child Health Day.

The good news is that we are very close to overriding the veto in the House. This is one of those times when every single call, every fax, every letter to the editor or postcard counts for a huge groundswell. Do not sit this one out — do something for SCHIP. And do it today. Do not sit by and let this President veto healthcare coverage for that child crying in the night.

FamiliesUSA.org has a petition that will go out to Congress this week.  Bill Scher has more information on SCHIP.   Get on the phone to your member in the House — and to your Senators.   And do remember to call local offices, they are often much more receptive than the beltway crowd.  Tell them to choose their constituents and the needs of children over George Bush’s “emergency room health care” plan.  Shameful doesn’t begin to describe this.  MoveOn.org is working with other groups to have rallies in hundreds of places nationwide — you can find a rally location near you here.

Here are some toll free numbers to the Capitol switchboard that katymine found that can help with your calls:

1 (800) 828 – 0498
1 (800) 459 – 1887
1 (800) 614 – 2803
1 (866) 340 – 9281
1 (866) 338 – 1015
1 (877) 851 – 6437

Let’s get to work, gang.  This one is important for all of us.