Can We Talk About How Jimmy Kimmel Used His Baby As A Political Prop?

It’s one thing to invoke family for a matter in which one is deeply and personal involved.

It’s another thing entirely to use a family member to score points against a political party.

There’s a difference between, say, former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum invoking his deceased son to explain social conservatism and late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel holding up his ailing baby on television to repeat a false narrative alleging Republicans are threatening to cut off funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program.

It’s the difference between being passionate about something and making oneself into a political pawn.

Kimmel claimed this week that a certain party (wink-wink) is leveraging funding for CHIP to secure tax breaks for the very wealthy.

"About one in eight children are covered only by CHIP, and it’s not controversial. It’s not a partisan thing," the late-night host said as he held his child, who had undergone heart surgery recently.

Kimmel added, "In fact, the last time funding for CHIP was authorized was in 2015. It passed with a vote of 396 to 37 in the House and 92 to 8 in the Senate. Overwhelmingly, Democrats and Republicans supported it. Until now.”

Though he’s careful not to use the words “Republican Party,” it’s pretty obvious where he is aiming his fire.

CHIP “always had bipartisan support. But this year, they let the money for it expire while they work on getting tax cuts for their billionaire and millionaire donors,” Kimmel said.

The politics of his monologue aren’t even carefully disguised.

To cut right to it: It’s just not true that the issue of funding CHIP is an exclusively Democratic position. Kimmel probably got that talking point from the same person who fed him lines during Congress’ last Obamacare repeal fight.

The biggest problem here is Kimmel’s incorrect assertion that only one party cares about keeping CHIP funded.

The Washington Post's fact-checker, which claimed Kimmel’s monologue “fell short” of being accurate, rightly noted, “The federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, which is why funding technically ran out when CHIP was not reauthorized. But states may continue to spend unspent 2017 allotments and funds from earlier years.

It added, “Only three states and the District of Columbia were projected to exhaust their funds by the end of December; more than half the states would run out of funds if fiscal year 2018 funding is not set by the end of March. That's the kind of deadline that focuses the attention of lawmakers.”

Also, as the fact-checker noted, CHIP isn’t being used as a “bargaining chip” in ongoing tax plan negotiations. It’s merely part of the normal year-end negotiations in Congress, which is par for the course in the capital.

Kimmel ended his sermon with this: "I don't know about you, I've had enough of this. I don't know what could be more disgusting than putting a tax cut that mostly goes to rich people ahead of the lives of children. Why hasn't CHIP been funded already? If these were potato chips they were taking away from us, we would be marching on Washington with pitchforks and spears right now."

The problem here is that Congress is negotiating CHIP funding as it debates a tax deal. It also has bipartisan support, contrary to Kimmel’s entire monologue.

“The bottom line: CHIP is completely unrelated to the tax legislation; in fact, it won't be and was never going to be part of the tax bill,” the Post reported. “Congress is able to work on several issues at once – and most of the outstanding issues get wrapped up just before important holidays.”

Or, to put it less politely, Kimmel had no idea what the hell he was talking about, and that makes it particularly gross for him to trot out his ailing child on stage this week to sell Democrats' partisan agenda from his own place of ignorance.

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