The Spectacle Blog

Checking Bill’s Facts

By on 1.13.06 | 10:18AM

A LexisNexis search quickly debunks Bill Clinton's explanation of the failure of his health care proposal.

The first item comes from the Nov. 20, 1994 Washington Times:

But the DLC's growing hostility over the Clinton White House's move from New Democrat ideas really began last fall, when the president unveiled his health care reform plan.

DLC leaders flatly rejected the government-run plan crafted by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying it was an old liberal proposal that could not pass.

At the time, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, a DLC vice chairman, said the plan was "too big, too costly, too bureaucratic."

Publicly, DLC leaders who wanted a cheaper, more market-oriented plan kept their criticism focused on the policy implications of the health care issue. Privately, some of them criticized Mrs. Clinton for pushing the plan on the party and giving Republicans a chance to use it to define her husband as "another big-government liberal."

Looks like costly, ineffective liberalism killed it, even among Democrats. And even the New York Times acknowledged many other factors in its Sept. 27, 1994 health care "reform" postmortem, prominently among them the White House's ineptitude:

The defeat ought to trigger an orgy of blame, and there is no shortage of deserving recipients. White House insistence on secret deliberations produced a bill that no one on Capitol Hill was committed to support. A politically inept health adviser, Ira Magaziner, designed a legislative behemoth that scared most members of Congress -- and the public. Hillary Rodham Clinton alienated the pharmaceutical industry and other interest groups that she ultimately needed to push reform through Congress. Demagogic special-interest lobbying and cynical Republican obstructionism designed by Bob Dole in the Senate and Newt Gingrich in the House played a role in the final stall. So did the listless advocacy of Mr. Mitchell and puzzling embrace of defeat by Mr. Clinton and his disorganized White House staff. There will be plenty of time to figure who did the most damage.

Donald Lambro, writing in the Sept. 22, 1994 Washington Times chalked it up to transparency: once Americans saw what they'd be getting, they tossed it out on its ear:

The Clintons blame the defeat of their plan to nationalize the health care system on wicked, powerful and greedy special interests and a litany of lies about what their plan would have done.

But in the final analysis their bureaucratic concoction and its House and Senate Democratic substitutes fell under their own weight.

Their opponents, using the democratic power of the mass media, merely had to explain what the plans contained and what they would have done to the most modern health care system in the world, to business costs, jobs and ultimately to our entire economy.

But the yearlong story behind the unraveling of the Clintons' attempt to push the heavy hand of government much deeper into our lives and our economy is more complicated than that. And a review of the mistakes they made should be instructive to future would-be social engineers.

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