The Republicans vs. the injured child

How would you get by on $45,000 a year with no insurance and two kids with severe brain injuries? Maybe somebody should ask Tony Snow.

Published October 10, 2007 10:53AM (EDT)

Two words for Rush Limbaugh, right-wing bloggers and other Republicans who say the family of a 12-year-old boy the Democrats have used as a poster child for expanding SCHIP (the State Children's Health Insurance Program) is too rich to deserve government help with medical care: Tony Snow.

When Snow announced in August that he was leaving his job as White House press secretary, he said he was doing so because he "ran out of money." Snow made $168,000 at the White House and presumably received health insurance as a federal employee. Snow said that he'd made "more money" in his "previous career" working for Fox News, and that he didn't want to dip into what he'd managed to put away before coming to the White House just so that he could keep working there. "I made the decision not to say to my wife and kids, 'You know, we've finally saved up all this money and done these things, and you're just going to have to give them away so Daddy can work at the White House,'" Snow explained. "We took out a loan when I came to the White House, and that loan is now gone. So I'm going to have to pay the bills."

The clear implication: The $168,000 Snow was making at the White House wasn't enough to handle month-to-month expenses for Snow, his wife and their three kids.

So how about that 12-year-old? His family of six -- one kid bigger than Snow's -- has an annual income of about $45,000. Without SCHIP -- and without health insurance subsidized by an employer -- the family's only route to medical insurance for the kids would have been to buy it themselves on the open market, if they could have gotten it; they apparently tried but were refused because of preexisting conditions.

Yes, the family has equity in a house and a commercial property worth about $160,000, but anyone want to guess how long even a few hundred thousand dollars in equity would last if you had to pay out of pocket -- as the kid's family would have if not for SCHIP -- for the medical care for two children who suffered severe brain injuries in a car crash? And anyone want to explain how a family that makes $45,000 a year could afford the payments on the home equity loan that would have been needed to extract that equity in the first place?

Tony? You out there?

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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