Children still enjoying the warm glow of the holidays should squeeze their presents tightly. President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans plan to kick the crutches out from under Tiny Tim and other young people in 2018.
Children’s health is first on the chopping block for the new year. Congress failed to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program back in September. CHIP, as it’s called, has been limping along on dwindling resources for a few months. A brief extension in a stopgap spending bill will run out in January. Individual states will run out of money over the ensuing months.
CHIP helps families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance without busting their household budget. It’s been a huge success. In 1997, 14 percent of children weren’t covered by health insurance. By 2015, that was down to 4.9 percent. About 2 million California children receive health care services under the program.
Worrying about whether your kids will be able to get vaccinations, surgery or anything in between next year is no way to spend the holidays.
That’s just the start for some families, though. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is slated to expire in March. If it does, nearly a million young people whose only crime was being brought into the country illegally as children would lose the security that they have had since President Barack Obama created the policy. More than 100 lose their legal status every day.
These are the so-called Dreamers. They grew up here, went to school or served in the military and have never committed a serious crime. They are American in everything but the paperwork. A congressional solution to give them legal standing was always preferable to executive action, but Trump chose the most heartless way to get it — an ultimatum that leaves children unsure what the future holds.
Members of both parties have said they want to find a way to renew DACA, but Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, blinked this month on forcing the issue. Republicans have mouthed the right words but not rushed to do the right thing.
It’s not just inaction that children must watch out for. Trump has proactive anti-child policies in mind, too.
The administration has proposed separating children from their parents when they are caught entering the country illegally. That’s meant to be a deterrent to illegal border crossings, but it’s hard to imagine a more contemptible approach to enforcement than pulling apart families because parents sought a better life for their kids. Send them home, if need be, but send them together.
And finally, it’s best not to think about the climate and environmental havoc that the administration has in the works — chopping down forests, mining on federal land and encouraging industries that emit to greenhouse gases and other toxins. Kids, the world you inherit isn’t looking pretty.
Trump and his fellow Republicans could look into the eyes of a small child and have their hearts grow three sizes that day, but don’t count on it. More likely there’s even worse coming as they deal with the $1.4 trillion they added to the deficit with their tax bill.
Pity the New Year’s babe.