Public Trusts Hillary On Health Care
Yesterday, the blogosphere largely went silent when Hillary rolled out her health care plan. Her Democratic rivals said that she was 1) copying them but not going far enough (Edwards); 2) copying them but not able to bring about consensus (Obama); or 3) was to blame for the country not having universal health care since 1994 (Dodd). Yet a CBS News poll out late yesterday showed that Democrats have more confidence in Hillary than the other candidates to get universal health care done. More importantly, 66% of all registered voters and 77% of Democratic registered voters say that her past experience on the issue is an asset. And contrary to Dodd’s nonsense yesterday, only 5% of those polled said that Hillary is “mostly responsible” for the lack of health care reform.
Unlike the “do it or else” approach with Congress that Edwards is taking, Clinton made it clear that she will work with Congress and all stakeholders, including small businesses in getting this done as her top domestic priority in 2009. Without getting into too much prescriptive detail, she said that congressional committees would take the lead in hammering out the details, committees that will be run by Democrats in a congress that has larger Democratic majorities than now.
The anti-Hillary part of the blogosphere dismisses Hillary's efforts because 1) they come from Hillary; and 2) they want an immediate push for single-payer because insurance and drug companies are raking billions from the current system while people die in this country. As for Number One, if you are against her plan even though it is a lot like those from Edwards and Obama, then the problem is personal and not policy. Complaints that she will simply sell out to corporate interests neglect the fact that she is leaving it to a largely Democratic congress in 2009 to flesh out the details.
As for Number Two, even though I agree that insurance and drug companies are culpable for the mess we are in now, so is Congress, and so are two presidential administrations. Also, it is shortsighted to clamor for a move straight away to single payer as if we already had public financing of our election system and as if there weren't powerful, well-financed interests spending millions to prevent drastic change. You cannot immediately remove insurance and drug companies from the system they helped build through years of buying off Congress and the Bush Administration. Since the influence of corporate money hasn't been removed from our politics and won't be in the near future, the best approach is get universal health care passed with this favorable political climate in 2009, with a strong regulatory component at the federal level, like we have done here in California with the Department of Managed Health Care.
Demanding single payer in an all-or-nothing fashion when the current election finance system is stacked against it, and when universal health care is an attainable goal in 2009 makes one wonder if the goal is to lose on principle or to fix the system.