Thursday, November 1, 2007

Garrett's SCHIP Numbers

In the latest edition of the Official What Squad, Representative Scott Garrett shed the usual lies and focused on income levels as a way to justify his stance against the State Children's Health Insurance Program. A look at the numbers catches Garrett once again showing a willingness to distort the truth. Fortunately, there's this pesky thing called the Census Bureau that helps discredit yet another of Garrett's arguments.

Here's what Garrett said:
Right now the SCHIP program, as originally intended, was to fund indigent care for children, at what level? Two hundred percent of poverty. Ballpark figure, that's around $42,000 for a family of four; that's what is defined as poverty for that family. The medium income, that's the middle income in this country, for a family of four all across this country on average is about $48,000. So, $48,000 is the middle range.

While Garrett's $42,000 ballpark for 200% is accurate, where the misrepresentation begins is with the family of four median income. As reported by the Census Bureau, the median income for ALL households is $48,451, not a family of four. While intentionally misstating the middle is a lie in and of itself, this is a very important distinction as Garrett's argument progresses.
So, when they're talking about providing services above 200, 250, 300, well, 300 percent of poverty, that would put you at approximately $62,000 for a family of four. In New Jersey, we're at 350 percent of poverty; that puts you around $72,000 for a family of four.

Once again, these estimated figures are also accurate, but here's where one lie builds into the other:
So, by definition, they're telling us that they are not trying to create a program for the indigent and the poor in this country. By the very definition of the words they're using and the facts that are out there, they are trying to create an entitlement program for the middle class.

Using Census Bureau figures, 74% of states have a median income for a family of four above $62,000. In our own New Jersey, where SCHIP does get up to about $72,000, the median income for a four person family is $94,441. So the truth is, a family of four qualifying for the program is making $22,000 less than the midpoint. Actually, in the 37 states with median incomes above $62,000, qualifying families of four would be below the state's median by over $10,000 in 17 of them (In Connecticut they're $30,000 under).

In fact, there are only seven states where the median income for a family of four is below $60,000, and not one is at the $48,000 level Garrett cited as the middle. The closest to the $48,451 composite national median is New Mexico, and their family of four median is roughly $3,600 above Garrett's distortion. He's not even close to being truthful on this.

Garrett has used fear, Garrett has distorted his own record, and now Garrett has tried to use numbers to argue against SCHIP. To date, Garrett and his fellow obstructionists have no argument against SCHIP that stands up to the slightest bit of truth.

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