American Prospect: Hillary 1990s Health Plan Role Is 'Mythology'

So her skeletal "plan" is out. At the same time, there's a story in a "progressive" publication claiming that Mrs. Clinton really didn't have much to do with what came to be known as Hillarycare in 1993-1994.

In what should henceforth be known as a Hillary Howler, Paul Starr, co-editor of the American Prospect, tries to convince us that Hillary was, in essence, a figurehead (bolds are mine):

Though the media scarcely registered it at the time, (Bill) Clinton had described this approach in a speech and referred to it in the presidential debates. Moreover, he saw health-care reform through the prism of economic policy, believed that reducing the long-term growth in health costs was a national imperative, and insisted that even while making coverage universal, health-care reform had to bring down future costs below current projections for both the government and the private economy. Among Clinton's close advisors, Ira Magaziner championed the view that these aims were achievable. When he became the director of the health-reform effort and Hillary the chair, their job was not to choose a policy, but to develop the one that the president had already adopted.

Despite all the attention it received, however, the President's Task Force -- consisting of members of the cabinet and several other senior officials -- proved to be useless for reaching decisions and drafting the plan. It immediately became the subject of litigation and dissolved at the end of May without making any recommendations. Bill Clinton actually never gave up control of the policy-making process, and the work fell to a small team of advisors and analysts that Magaziner directed. Beginning in March and continuing in a stop-and-go fashion until September, the decision meetings about the plan took place outside the formal structure of the task force, usually in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, and the president ran the meetings himself.

My knowledge of this process is first-hand.

It seems to me that Mr. Starr is admitting "first-hand" that the Clinton Administration used the publicly-visible "Task Force" as a front-group distraction to shield the actual work of the insiders' "task force" from public scrutiny. How "clever."

As to Starr's claim about Hillary's non-involvement: Nice try, pal. No sale.

If Mrs. Clinton didn't really have much to do with Hillarycare, as Starr claims, I don't see how this is possible (also here at Wikipedia):

September 28, 1993 - Hillary Clinton begins several days of testimony on health care before five congressional committees. Her appearance is both dramatic and triumphant. Its very success, however, triggers new and intense activity among opponents who see in her a foe whose defeat will require their most determined efforts.

How did Hillary get through "several days of testimony" without being very knowledgeable about what the insiders' "task force" had developed? Likely answer: Mrs. Clinton, in additional to being in charge of the public "Task Force," was also one of the insiders on the non-public one, or was kept so well-apprised of what it was doing that she might as well have been.

Readers can be forgiven for wondering how Mr. Starr can be so brazen in his admission of an undisclosed secret task force when Vice President Cheney was so roundly criticized -- and sued -- over his supposedly secret Energy Task Force several years ago, while Old Media cheered the litigants on.

Additionally, 13-1/2 years later, but six months before some campaign-consulting "genius" apparently came up with the idea that Hillary's close association with what came to be known as Hillarycare would not be helpful, Ms. Clinton said the following (scroll down about 40% of the way to the "Hillary Clinton on 1990s Hillarycare" section) at the March SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas (bolds are mine):

I feel a little bit like this is deja vu all over again. All those years ago, we tried to convince the country and the Congress--we convinced the country but we didn't convince the Congress!--that we needed to move toward and achieve universal health care coverage. Now, I am proud we tried. We may not have succeeded, but we set the groundwork in place so that now people are saying, boy, we wish we had done that back then because costs have continued to increase. Pressures on the system, on our doctors, our nurses, our health care workers have just been so stressful. So what we need to do is to make a commitment. And I'm proud that everyone running on the Democratic side is committed to universal health care coverage. I am in favor of universal health care coverage that brings in the 47 million who are uninsured--which is a disgrace--and begins to guarantee coverage to people who already have insurance, because there are a lot of people who think they have insurance except when they need it.

Why, if what Mr. Starr claims about her non-involvement is true, would she not have given credit to her husband instead of using "we" so many times -- the bolded uses of "we" substitutable with "my husband and I"? And if she really wasn't very involved, why would she have allowed everyone to believe she was all these years -- up to and including that March speech? A saying about not being able to have one's cake and eat it too comes to mind.

And now, a free bonus: Allah at Hot Air is wondering whether Mrs. Clinton's plan will give "universal coverage" to illegal immigrants. Six months ago, her statement that "I am in favor of universal health care coverage that brings in the 47 million who are uninsured" made it crystal-clear that the 12 milllion or so illegals who are included in that 47 million would indeed be covered.

There's no need for Allah to wait for Clinton policy adviser Laurie Rubiner to "get back to" him. Her boss has already given us the answer.

Despite the evidence, don't expect Old Media to have any interest in tieing universal health care to the immigration issue any time soon, or, for that matter, pursuing the bizarre about-face on Hillary's role Mr. Starr is attempting to propagate.

Cross-posted at

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.