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GOP Sen: We Can Afford A Trillion Dollars In Tax Cuts, But ‘We Don’t Have Any Money’ For Children’s Health Care

Last week, just hours before Republicans passed a $1 trillion tax cut for corporations, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown shook the Senate floor as he challenged Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch to answer one simple question:

“Why were Republicans about to pass tax cuts for wealthy business owners while the Children’s Health Insurance Program remains unextended?

Hatch reacted with fury. “Nobody believes more in the CHIP program than I,” he shot back. “I invented it. We’re gonna do CHIP. There’s no question about it in my mind, and it’s gotta be done the right way. The reason CHIP’s having trouble is we don’t have any money anymore.”

Then the Republican Senator got himself into hot waters.

“I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything,” Hatch said.

“Unfortunately, the liberal philosophy has created millions of people that way, who believe everything they are or ever hope to be depend on the federal government rather than the opportunities that this great country grants them.”

Twitter exploded. “Orrin Hatch Seems To Think Children Helped by CHIP Are Lazy Takers,” a headline at the progressive website Daily Kos read.

Hatch was saying that there’s no money to extend CHIP, which would cost less than 1 percent of the cost of the tax cuts he and his Republican allies support, because of spending on that broader social safety net. And that’s where his comments are truly revealing about the GOP’s priorities.

You can tell what a party really cares about by watching what they’re willing to pass, financing be damned.

Republicans really care about tax cuts — and so they’ll overlook a $1.5 trillion hole in the federal deficit and promise that economic growth will cover it even when almost every independent analysis disagrees.

But when it comes to a program like CHIP, a policy founded with Republican support that literally provides health insurance for poor children, they have no problem putting the program’s future at risk. “We don’t have any money,” as Hatch said on the Senate floor.

Hatch and other Republicans have left the program unfunded for the past two months while rushing through the most significant rewriting of the nation’s tax code in a generation — a rewriting of the tax code that will mean a more than $1 trillion decrease in revenues over the next decade, and thus even less money to finance programs like CHIP.

Because their priority is: Children’s health insurance can’t pass but corporate tax cuts can.

As noted by Axios, about 9 million children are covered through CHIP. It would cost about $8 billion to fund it for the next five years, as Congress is proposing. It is overwhelmingly popular. This should be a layup for lawmakers.

But instead, it’s been stuck. This is because Republicans have their priorities upside down: Children’s health insurance can’t pass but a trillion dollars in deficit-financed corporate tax cuts can.

This is what Republicans really believe about the government

The real resonance of Hatch’s reply to Brown is how succinctly it summarizes the way Republicans understand public policy and the role of government.

“For decades now, we’re spending more than we have,” Hatch said.

Again, this was mere hours before he voted for a bill that is projected to blow a $1 trillion hole in the federal deficit in order.

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