Thursday evening, as the Senate debated the Republican tax plan, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) asked what could be done to secure funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is due to run out of money in numerous states early next year. Senator Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) response was nothing short of paradoxical:
"[T]he reason CHIP’s having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore, and to 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.”
With the Joint Committee on Taxation’s estimate that the GOP tax bill will add about $1 trillion to the deficit, Hatch's statement is borderline absurd. But he wasn't finished:
In his speech, Hatch also said he thinks CHIP has done a “terrific job for people who really need the help” and noted that he had advocated for helping those who can’t help themselves throughout his Senate career. But, he continued, “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.”
CHIP provides health insurance for low to moderate income families and pregnant women, covering approximately 9 million children and costing about $14 billion a year.
Congress last reauthorized the program in 2015 and was due to do so again by September 30, 2017. Except this time around, congressional leaders let that deadline pass. And while states contribute some money to the program, it is primarily funded by the federal government, which means its money will soon start to run out.