This morning I was trying to find some of my old Christmas cards from the Clinton White House when I stumbled upon this news story in my files. Read it. It is amazing to think how much progress we are making this time around. It is sad, as well, to see how similar the Republican attack strategy is today. A “socialist takeover of the health care system?” If nothing else, Republicans are consistently unimaginative.
What jumped out at me was the last sentence of the story: “Republicans, with no attempt to hide their glee, have been declaring health care dead for weeks. They hope to turn the issue to their advantage in the November congressional elections, where they are expected to pick up a number of Democratic-controlled seats.”
Glee? What’s changed from that cynical, self-serving objective in 1994 except that his time, thankfully, they will be on the losing side of history.
U.S. senate leader abandons health reform for year
By Joanne Kenen
WASHINGTON (Reuter) – Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell Monday reluctantly abandoned health reform efforts for the year, sounding the death knell for President Clinton’s top domestic priority.
“It is clear that health insurance reform cannot be enacted this year,” Senator Mitchell told a news conference in which he tried to pin the blame unequivocally on die-hard Republican opposition to even modest health care reform.
The House of Representatives gave up any pretense at working on health reform in mid-summer. Both Democratic-controlled chambers are due to recess early next month without sending any health bill to Clinton.
The president had vowed to veto any health care bill that fell short of his campaign pledge to provide health insurance that could never be taken away to every single American. He never got close to that goal.
About 39 million Americans lack health insurance, a situation unparalleled in other industrialized democracies. The ranks of the uninsured are forecast to keep rising, but it will not be easy for Congress to make another concerted push for comprehensive reform after coming up empty-handed this year, many lawmakers and their staffs say.
Clinton unveiled his sweeping proposed overhaul of the American health care system just over a year ago.
But Republicans tore into the plan as tantamount to a socialist takeover of the health care system, and said it would bankrupt the country. Even many Democrats thought Clinton was aiming too high, and found the plan too bureaucratic and costly.
The public, subjected to a $100 million barrage of lobbying and advertising aimed in large part at killing comprehensive health reform, got more and more confused and apprehensive.
Clinton said he was willing to let Congress reshape the plan, and Congressional panels and the Democratic leadership in Congress began doing precisely that. But even though health reform got whittled down, and numerous alternative versions were offered, lawmakers never found a formula that could pass.
Mitchell had been expected to declare an end to health care efforts last week. But he opted for one final round of consultations with colleagues on the prospects on passing even a minor bill that could be a cornerstone for future legislation. Monday, he acknowledged there was no point in going on.
“We all agreed it would serve no purpose to go forward unless we had the necessary votes,” said the Maine Democrat, who had badly wanted a health bill before retiring this year.
Last week, the Republican leaders of the House and Senate said aloud what their colleagues had been saying privately; They will oppose any health care bill this year, modest or not, bipartisan or not.
Referring to Republicans’ ability to filibuster any bill, a stalling tactic that they have used with increasing frequency, Mitchell added, “Even though Republicans are a minority in Congress, in the Senate, they’re a minority with a veto. They have the ability to block legislation and they have chosen to do so on health care reform,” he said.
Republicans, with no attempt to hide their glee, have been declaring health care dead for weeks. They hope to turn the issue to their advantage in the November congressional elections, where they are expected to pick up a number of Democratic-controlled seats.
by Frank Marafiote