July 14, 2005
POLICY/POLITICS: The evolution of Hillary Clinton and the failure of reform in 1993 (TO BE CONTINUED)
I have been meaning for some time to write about what really happened in 1993-4. But I'm finally going to get off my duff (or more accurately) sit on my diff and do it because of the close to ridiculous rubbish written in an article called The Evolution of Hillary Clinton in Wednesday's New York Times. But as that'll take me a little while, I'm reproducing the key part of the argument about health care here:
No other policy issue defined Mrs. Clinton in the 90's as starkly as health care. Not only did her effort to establish universal health insurance end in embarrassing defeat for her husband's administration, but it also emboldened Republicans and contributed to the notion that she was a big-government liberal. More then a decade later, it is clear that that experience has profoundly altered her approach now that she is a member of Congress.
She has deliberately avoided the major mistake she made as first lady, namely trying to sell an ambitious plan to a public with no appetite for radical change. Over the last four and a half years, she has stuck to a host of more modest initiatives, apparently mindful of the political perils of overreaching. She summed up her approach in the first floor speech she delivered in the Senate about four years ago, when she unveiled a series of relatively modest health care initiatives.
"I learned some valuable lessons about the legislative process, the importance of bipartisan cooperation and the wisdom of taking small steps to get a big job done," she said, referring to the 1994 defeat of her health care plan. She has not completely discarded her 90's view that there is an urgent need to overhaul the way health care is delivered in the nation. In fact, she has not been shy about embracing proposals that might be seen as liberal in some quarters, like seeking to provide medical coverage to everyone living in poverty.
But on the whole, Mrs. Clinton, who has served in a Republican-controlled Congress for most of her tenure, has assembled an agenda with practical-minded initiatives that appear to be aimed at the political center.
Perhaps one of the most notable is one that drew support from unlikely quarters: Senator Bill Frist, the conservative majority leader from Tennessee, and Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who had a major role in defeating her health care plan in 1994.
The bill these three embraced seeks to encourage greater online exchanges of medical information among patients, doctors, medical insurers and other health care experts. Mrs. Clinton has argued that such an approach would, among other things, reduce medical errors resulting from poorly kept paper records and reduce the number of costly malpractice suits.
She has denounced the "contagion" of sex and violence in children's entertainment, apparently attempting to move the issue beyond the question of morality and values, where Republicans have long held a political advantage. Citing studies indicating that graphic images of violence lead to more aggressive behavior among children, she has cast the problem as a health issue that amounts to an epidemic and requires a vigorous response from public health officials.
Her longtime focus on children's health has also continued through her Senate service, most notably in the passage of legislation she sponsored ensuring that prescription drugs approved for adults but prescribed for children be tested for children.
I'll be back later to explain why Hillary Clinton doesn't understand what went wrong in 1993-4 and why that may have some big time implications if she is the candidate in the game of "continue the dynasty" that we'll be playing in 2008 or 2012.
Meanwhile, read the full article
To Be Continued