While Hillary Clinton seems to spend the vast majority of her time attacking Donald Trump, her campaign is still busy releasing ads to promote her, ahem… extensive record of accomplishments and qualifications to be the next president. While most of her surrogates begin stammering and attempting to change the subject when questions of specifically what those accomplishments might be comes up, Clinton herself has no trouble listing them as part of her campaign portfolio. This past week they put out yet another campaign ad touting one of her many victories on behalf of America’s children. Did you know that she was instrumental in creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1998?
What’s that you say? She wasn’t even in any elected office in 1998 and couldn’t possibly have enacted any legislation or signed a bill into law? She’s not going to let a little thing like that bother her. Check out the video from the Washington Post.
“It’s always been about kids. And when millions could not get health care, this first lady worked with Democrats and Republicans to fix it, creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program ‘so that every child gets the health care they deserve.’ Now 8 million kids are covered. That’s the kind of leader she is — and the kind of president she will be.”
Clinton has made similar claims on the campaign trail this year during interviews.
“Even when I was First Lady, you know after we were not successful in health care, I teamed up with Republicans and Democrats to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program,
The WaPo’s Glenn Kessler is tasked with the fact checking work at their newspaper and he’s generally more than willing to contort the record in all sorts of directions to lend credence to Clinton’s claims or at least soften the impact to her campaign when she goes astray. (And this case is no different, as we’ll get to in a moment.) But even he was unable to swallow this particular load of self-aggrandizement.
The operative phrasing in the ad is that Clinton, as first lady, “worked with Democrats and Republicans to fix it, creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program.” At this point in the ad, the 1998 clip appears of Clinton speaking about the program.
CHIP was actually passed in 1997, as part of a balanced-budget deal sign by the president. In 1998, the Clintons were urging states to sign up for the program, and Hillary Clinton took a more overt public role in promoting it. But the campaign would have been unable to find a clip from 1997, because Hillary Clinton’s role was more hidden — and in dispute.
By all accounts, the prime mover behind CHIP was the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). He was inspired by a similar Massachusetts program and then enlisted Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) as his partner in the effort. The idea was to fund children’s health care with money raised from taxes on tobacco products.
Glenn actually has a lengthy history of the passage of CHIP, with archived articles from the period covering all the key players. As he notes, this was largely the brainchild of Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch. In an effort to bolster Clinton’s claims, Kessler attempts to dig up any reference at all to Hillary “working” to get the program enacted or taking part in the process with “Democrats and Republicans.” For his effort, he manages to dig up a report of Hillary talking to Kennedy about it once and never to Hatch.
Still, Kessler only assigns her Two Pinocchios for the claim, rather than a Pants on Fire level rating. Why? The claim was quite specific… she “worked with Democrats and Republicans” and she was instrumental in “creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program.” On the first count, there isn’t a single Republican on record in the past nearly 20 years with any recollection of her “working with them.” And for the second part, Hillary Clinton was the First Lady at that time. She held no elected office and had no Constitutionally allowed duties involving the passage of legislation. Sure, she may have been in favor of it and perhaps even carped at her husband to get it passed, but that’s no more involvement than anyone else in the country who sent in a letter supporting the idea.
Still, even with Kessler’s gentle treatment of the advertisement, this is clearly another obvious lie on Clinton’s part in an effort to make it look as if she’s actually accomplished something of substance over the course of her career.