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NYT compares Obama, Clinton health-reform efforts

Just in time for President Obama’s address to Congress on Wednesday, New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes looks back and forward at Clinton and Obama efforts in a video on “Health Care Reform: Then and Now.”

Her written story, “Clinton’s Health Defeat Sways Obama’s Tactics,” is the second-most popular NYT health story last I checked.

Both reports are worthwhile primers and reminders. The video raises the possibility that more attention will be paid to the compromise legislation proposed by former Sens. Bob Dole of Kansas and Tom Daschle of South Dakota. Dole’s a Republican; Daschle a Democrat.

The written version also spells out the six lessons Obama’s administration is taking from the Clinton administration:

Lesson 1: Failure Is Not an Option.

Lesson 2: Know your audience — insured taxpayers.

Lesson 3: Move before the honeymoon ends.

Lesson 4: Leave the details to Congress.

Lesson 5: Co-opt the opposition.

Lesson 6: Take what you can get.

Calmes offers more detail under each lesson. But with Obama’s address to Congress coming up, Lesson 6 is on my mind:

“What optimism remains among Democrats stems from their belief that Mr. Obama, unlike the Clintons, will take half a loaf and declare victory, and that most Democrats, mindful of 1994’s election debacle, will go along.

“In his 1994 State of the Union address, Mr. Clinton famously waved a pen and threatened to veto any bill that did not ‘guarantee every American’ private health insurance. Even an aide who recommended that uncompromising signal, Paul Begala, now says it was a mistake. Others have said the White House forfeited a chance to compromise with Mr. [Bob] Dole and other Senate Republicans.

“The question for Mr. Obama is whether he will have any Republicans with whom to compromise. More likely, he will have to mediate between the liberals and conservatives in his own party.”

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Ross Williams on 09/08/2009 - 01:35 pm.

    Just what we need, a video on health care reform from the NYT. Its the sort of discussion that just demands a visual presentation to have an real understanding.

    Whatever differences there are with Clinton, Obama has made the same mistake. In trying to spread the pain of cost controls, he has made defending the status quo in everyone’s interest. Whether you are an insurer, a drug company or a medical service provider, doing nothing is the preferred option.

    But it appears we are going to get the half of the loaf that reduces future costs. But it is going to have to come at the expense of the amount and quality of health care people receive. Because no one is willing to impose cost reductions on any of the “players” in this game.

  2. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/09/2009 - 08:50 am.

    Mr. Williams: I agree, but he unfortunately has taken a while to realize that almost all the Republicans in Congress see destroying his presidency as a higher goal that reforming health care. There is no point in trying to seek bipartisanship where there is none.

    Also unfortunately, he shut out of all early forums the voices that represent 65-plus percent of American citizens/voters and, in Minnesota, over 60 percent of doctors: those who favor a single-payer “Medicare for All” type plan.

    Also unfortunately, if a single-payer plan couldn’t even make it past the Blue Dogs, he and the Congress should at least have considered the Swiss plan, where private insurers are highly regulated so as not to hurt people as ours do. They are not allowed to deny coverage OR payment of claims and, I believe, are all non-profit companies.

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