GOP Senator says it’s hard to fund $14 billion children’s health care program — then advocates for $1 trillion tax cut

This week, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) helped push a tax bill through the Senate that will cost about $1 trillion. At the same time, he lamented the difficulties of finding the money to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which pays for healthcare for nine million children and costs about $14 billion a year — a program Hatch helped create.

Sunday-morning tweet from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough quoting Hatch kicked off a dustup on Twitter over the Utah Republican’s take on CHIP. Funding for the program — which was created as a joint effort between Hatch and Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy in 1997 — expired at the end of September; Congress has yet to reauthorize it. That puts health care for millions of American children at risk.

On Thursday evening, as the Senate debated the Republican tax plan, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) asked whether there’s “something we can do to get the children’s health insurance program done.”

Hatch’s response, in a nutshell: Yes, we’ll fund the program, but we’re really short on money.

“We’re going to do CHIP, there’s no question about it in my mind. And it’s got to be done the right way,” Hatch said. “But the 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.”

This came as he advocated for a tax bill that, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation’s latest estimate, will add approximately $1 trillion to the deficit even when adjusted for economic growth, and which disproportionately benefits corporations and the wealthy.

(Excerpted from Vox 12/3/17)