Remembering Hillary Care and the Democratic Loss of Congress

George Will reminds us of why Hillary Clinton should not be the Democratic nominee as he notes that Iraq is the GOP’s Health Care Disaster:

But last Tuesday’s election results were fresh evidence that two events which profoundly shaped American politics during the last two presidencies were episodes of irrational exuberance unrelated to economic behavior.

The Democratic episode was the Clintons’ attempt to radically restructure and semi-socialize the 16 percent of the economy that is the health-care sector. The Republican episode was — is — Iraq.

The Clintons’ health plan never even came to a vote in a Congress their party controlled. Two years later, President Clinton was silly to say that “the era of big government is over,” but a different era was over. It was the era of confidently comprehensive, continentwide attempts to reform complex social systems.

Ten weeks before the 1994 elections, Martha Derthick of the University of Virginia wrote of the plan produced by Hillary Clinton’s 500-person task force: “In many years of studying American social policy, I have never read an official document that seemed so suffused with coercion and political naivete … with its drastic prescriptions for controlling the conduct of state governments, employers, drug manufacturers, doctors, hospitals and you and me.”

The Clintons’ health care plan validated the perception that their party was gripped by both intellectual hubris and intellectual sloth — meaning, it was still in a New Deal and Great Society frame of mind. This perception contributed to the 1994 election in which Republicans gained 52 House seats (and soon five more from party switchers) — ending 40 years of Democratic control of the House — and eight Senate seats (plus two party switchers).

The Democrats deserved to be thrown out for developing a proposal as awful as Hillary’s heath care plan. The country, however, did not deserve the Republicans who replaced them. To choose Hillary Clinton to lead the Democrats would be like, should the Democrats screw up while in power, returning to George Bush’s policies in response.

In 2004 John Kerry showed he understood the faults in Clinton’s health care proposals by coming up with an excellent plan which, despite the GOP smears that it was a “government take over of health care,” preserved choice and limited government intrusion. John Kerry showed that, regardless of whether he can tell a joke, he knows the direction which the country should go in, being neither the direction of George Bush or Hillary Clinton.

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  1. 1
    shaun says:

    Let’s hope the Democratic leadership learned from the mistakes following the 1992 election. Things like Hilary Care put a sour taste in the public’s mouth and helped lead to their downfall in ’94.

    Don’t get me wrong, universal health care is an important issue and one the Democrats should address, but just not yet. A good starting point for the new Congress is the minimum wage, but I’d like to see them tackle some of the lobbying issues and voting irregularities after the minimum wage.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    “Don’t get me wrong, universal health care is an important issue”

    Of course opposing Hillary Care does not mean opposing universal health care. Health care is something which considerably impacts a huge number of people and the details a plan are crucial. The problem wasn’t Hillary’s goal of universal care, but of how she went about it.

    My major objection was to the details of her plan, but they also made a big mistake politically. Hillary got Bill to agree to veto any plan Congress passed which was short of universal care. The veto should be used to stop something which is bad, not to stop something because it falls short of giving you 100% of what you want. At the time they should have gone for something closer to Kerry’s 2004 plan. It fell short of 100% universal care, and therefore Bill would have vetoed it, but it would be a tremendous step in the right direction.

    Simply having an alternative to the Republicans will help on the lobbying problems as K Street has already abandoned the idea of only hiring Republicans as they were forced to previously. Obviously institutional changes in Congress still need to be made.

    This may be a good time to address electronic voting. The problem the last two years is that a lot of tin foil hat ideas got thrown in with the real issues, and the issue was seen as stopping the Republicans from stealing elections from Democrats. Changes will only come about if there can be a bipartisan consensus. After winning, including in some close races such as in Montana and Virginia, the Brad Blog types have been exposed for the kooks they are. Their claims that Republicans could just push a few buttons and steal any close election have been shown to be idiotic. However, Republicans also experienced problems this year. The sane Democrats and Republicans might now be able to get together to find a voting system which each side agrees is accurate and verifiable.

    Simply getting rid of people like Blackwell, and having Democrats in charge of former red states, might help with some of the other types of irregularities where they tried to limit Democratic registration and suppress the Democratic vote. Democrats are obviously in a much better position to bring about reform in such areas.

  3. 3
    battlebob says:

    I remember the big fights with the conspiracy folks about vote theft. Closer to the election, when more reports about Diebold coding problems, I got a little worried.
    They have two years to correct the problems and get paper receipts printed. Repubs areas that went Dem had issues also. Now everyone’s ox has been gored.

    Hilary care was a disaster in thought and possible implementation. Bubba hung his wife out to dry. There is no way she had the ability to navigate the political minefields she had to cross. Bubba’s all or nothing approach showed a rare lack of political ability. As a politician, he wants all but settles for less.
    In this case, he put it on the tee for Dole and doomed discussions on UHC for years.
    Dems need to couch UHC as a necessity for business to compete world markets competitively. In 2004, Ford (head of Ford) tried to help by saying that each car cost more in health care then steel to make. Ford cannot compete with car companies that build in countries with universal health care. UHC has to be a part of the US regaining its competitive balance.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    I think the loss over health care was a real learning experience for Bill. He learned from neccesity when he lost Congress and, while we may not agree with all his decisions, he found a way to maintain his Presidency.

    It will be interesting to see how Bush responds to the loss of Congress. Being both a lame duck with only two years to go, and being a lot less astute than Clinton, Bush’s chances for recovering from such a humiliation are much poorer.

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