Posted: September 19, 2007 3:57 PM
Clinton Finalizes Health Care Plan; Both Sides Attack
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton took center stage among the Democratic contenders for president this week, as she unveiled the final portion of her long-awaited plan for universal health care.
Democratic and Republican rivals alike took the opportunity to criticize the proposal. Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama issued a press release calling the idea, “similar to the one I put forth last spring.” He added, “My universal health care plan would go further in reducing the punishing cost of health care than any other proposal that’s been offered in this campaign.”
In Chicago, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C. told an audience at the Laborers Leadership Convention that if elected, he intended to introduce legislation on his first day as president to end health care coverage for himself and Congress in July 2009, until a universal health care plan could be adopted. He said, “The lesson Senator Clinton seems to have learned from her experience with health care is, ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’ I learned a very different lesson from decades of fighting powerful interests — you can never join ‘em, you just have to beat ‘em.”
Outside a New York hospital, former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney charged that, “Version 2.0 is not likely to have any more success than 1.0 HillaryCare continues to be bad medicine.” Critics have pointed out that Romney signed a similar state-wide health care plan into law as governor.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s communications director Katie Levinson echoed the “HillaryCare 2.0” nickname in a statement, saying, “Senator Clinton’s latest health scheme includes more government mandates, expensive federal subsidies and more big bureaucracy — in short, a prescription for an increase in wait times, a decrease in patient care and tax hikes to pay for it all.”
The plan drew mixed reviews from editorial pages. The “Wall Street Journal on Wednesday” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119016971585932036.html?mod=opinion_main_review_and_outlooks opined, “As she unveils HillaryCare II, Mrs. Clinton likes to joke that it’s ‘deja vu all over again’ — and it is, unfortunately.” The Washington Post, on the other hand, ran a Tuesday editorial praising Clinton “for being the only Democratic candidate to take even this step toward a more rational system.”
The Clinton campaign also released a new ad touting the plan. The 30-second spot reminds voters that “she changed our thinking when she introduced universal health care to America,” in the 1990s, then returns to the emphasis on choice: “Now she has a health care plan that lets you keep your coverage if you like it, provides affordable choices if you don’t and covers every American. … So if you’re ready for change, she’s ready to lead.”
A CBS poll released Monday found that when it comes to health care, Democratic primary voters trust Clinton more than the other top-tier candidates. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said they had confidence in Clinton’s abilities, while 42 percent said the same about Obama, and 39 percent voiced confidence in Edwards.
Meanwhile, media interest in the Norman Hsu scandal continued. The disgraced Democratic fund raiser generated front page stories from both the New York Times and the Washington Post over the weekend. Hsu was expected to waive his extradition rights in Colorado and be sent back to San Mateo County, Calif. for sentencing relating to his 1991 grand theft conviction.
Clinton, meanwhile, is set to attend the AARP presidential forum Thursday, moderated by NewsHour senior correspondent Judy Woodruff. The senator has no public campaign events scheduled for the weekend.