Perhaps the only thing going for conservatives in the SCHIP debate is complete journalistic incompetence from the Washington media.

Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball just asserted that the SCHIP bill isn’t paid for and doesn’t include a raise in tobacco taxes. He then charged Democrats for not having the “guts to finance it.”

This is just flat wrong. CQ reports: “The expansion would be paid for with tobacco tax increases.” What else is there to say?

Over on CNN earlier today, Sen. John McCain also pulls the phony charge out of thin air:

It’s a phony smoke-and-mirrors way of paying for it.

We’ve laid a debt on these same children that we’re trying — that we’re saying we’re going to give health insurance to. The American people have rebelled against out-of-control spending. If they can find a legitimate way to pay for it, I would consider it.

Raising the tobacco tax is a straight-forward legitimate way to pay for it, one that is backed by 72% of Americans.

CNN’s interviewer John King said nothing to correct him.


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