"I support the initial intent of the program," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post after a factory tour and a discussion on health care with small-business owners in Landover. "My concern is that when you expand eligibility . . . you're really beginning to open up an avenue for people to switch from private insurance to the government."Also, Bush gets brave, sticks up for Big Tobacco:
"I'm not going to surrender a good and important idea before the debate really gets started," Bush said. "And I think it's going to be very important for our allies on Capitol Hill to hear a strong, clear message from me that expansion of government in lieu of making the necessary changes to encourage a consumer-based system is not acceptable."
About 3.3 million additional children would be covered under the proposal developed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Republican Sens. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) and Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), among others. It would provide the program $60 billion over five years, compared with $30 billion under Bush's proposal. And it would rely on a 61-cent increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes, to $1 a pack [plus a 20,000 percent tax hike on high-end cigars], which Bush opposes.For more on SCHIP, see Kimberly Strassel.
Bush said he is opposed to a bipartisan legislation that would allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products, which could lead to stronger warning labels and limits on nicotine and other ingredients.
"We've always said that nicotine is not a drug to be regulated under FDA," Bush said.