Politics

obama health care, obamacare, obama health care reform
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
President Barack Obama talks about his
plan for health care reform, July 20,
2009.

Clinton-Era Ghost Haunts Obama’s Plan for Health Care Reform

July 23, 2009 06:00 PM
by Jill Marcellus
As the Senate dismisses Obama’s August deadline for health care reform, pundits detect the familiar scent of HillaryCare’s failure in the air.

Delays Evoke Memories of HillaryCare

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Despite Obama’s televised assurances on Wednesday, editorials across the country are speculating that, when it comes to health care reform, 2009 might be 1994 all over again. 

A few months ago, Obama appeared to have the momentum on health care reform, but CNN polls now show that support for Obama’s handling of the issue has declined to 47 percent.  CNN describes conservative Democrats as “in sticker shock,” meanwhile, causing them to shy away from their party’s proposal.  Obama stirred further controversy, and prompted accusations of rushing complex legislation, by demanding that Congress pass a bill by its August recess.  On Thursday, according to The New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally dismissed the President’s deadline as an impossible goal.

As CNN reports, pundits have recognized the warning signs of a Clinton-esque disaster in this combination of delay, decreasing public support, and moderate hesitation. In 1992, Bill Clinton won the presidency in part due to enthusiasm over his health care message. Over the next year, he gradually lost his momentum, along with the support of moderate politicians and the American people. By 1994, his plans for health care reform were dead.

Based on the HillaryCare example, Reuters proposes two possible outcomes for Obama’s plan: defeat by delay or a watered-down version of reform. John Fund in The Wall Street Journal embraces the second scenario, encouraging Obama to “scale back his ambitions to win passage of something from Congress and then declare ‘victory.’” The alternative, he implies, would be failure to pass anything, which CNN speculates might be as disastrous for the Obama presidency as it was for Clinton’s. In the wake of the Clinton reform debacle, the Republicans reclaimed Congress in the 1994 midterm elections.


Next: Revisiting HillaryCare: What It Proposed and Why It Failed >
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