Under the headline, "Bush hints at spending more on children's health bill," I think the AP is misreading
the president's weekly radio address a bit.
President Bush signaled a willingness Saturday to spend more than what he had recommended for a popular children's health program, but provided no specifics on how much higher he would go.
The president on Wednesday vetoed legislation that would increase spending for the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years. Bush has called for a $5 billion increase. Several Republicans in both chambers have sided with Democratic lawmakers on the issue.
"If putting poor children first takes a little more than the 20 percent increase I have proposed in my budget for SCHIP, I am willing to work with leaders in Congress to find the additional money," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
This may sound like renewed flexibility on the president's part, but it's not nearly that encouraging. Indeed, the day he vetoed the bill extending healthcare to low-income children, he told
a friendly Pennsylvania audience, "I'm more than willing to work with members of both parties from both Houses, and if they need a little more money in the bill to help us meet the objective of getting help for poor children, I'm more than willing to sit down with the leaders and find a way to do so."
The emphasis there is on "a little more money." Bush is kinda sorta interested is striking a compromise, just so long as it's very close to his demands. What Bush may or may not understand, though, is that the current, bipartisan S-CHIP bill is already
a compromise measure. It's exactly why it passed with such a strong majority, and why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ruled out
compromising on the compromise earlier this week.
The AP report suggested Bush's comments this morning were a "hint" at conciliation. If only that were the case.