Clinton campaign tries to spin Bill Clinton's attack on Obamacare

A spokesman for the Clinton campaign offered up some laughable spin on former President Bill Clinton’s attack on Obamacare. From Politico:

“President Clinton said as, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine believe, there’s so much good the Affordable Care Act has done in terms of making insurance available to 25 million people,” Palmieri told reporters in the spin room here ahead of the lone vice presidential debate. “There’s still a lot of work to do … that’s what President Clinton’s referring to. And while we’ve there’s a lot of good the legislation has done, there’s more work to be done to fix it to make it better for people.”

Well, no, not really. As Larry pointed out yesterday, Mr. Clinton called Obamacare “the craziest thing in the world.” But it wasn’t just one awkward line. Clinton was making an argument that private insurance didn’t work for health care. “It doesn’t make any sense. The insurance model doesn’t work here. It’s not like life insurance, it’s not like casualty, it’s not like predicting floods. It doesn’t work,” Clinton said.

Bill’s solution, which he attributed to Hillary, was to let people buy into Medicare or Medicaid rather than private insurance. As the Atlantic points out, Bill seems to have conflated two different proposals:

He appears to be merging separate elements of Hillary’s plan into one. She has called for expanding Medicare so that anyone age 55 and older can buy in. She has proposed incentives to cajole states that didn’t expand Medicaid to do so now. And joining President Obama and more than two dozen Senate Democrats, she wants to revive the “public option” that was left out of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 because it didn’t have the votes to pass.

So Bill was getting a bit loose with this but he’s correct that Hillary’s proposals represent an effort to further edge out private insurance in favor of a government solution.

Long ago Rep. Jan Schakowsky created a real headache for Democrats when she said eliminating private insurance was the goal of the public option. At the time, Democrats denied it and even Schakowsky herself went on television to walk back her remarks. Now, seven years later, it seems Bill Clinton has embraced her point of view. Would we even be here now if Democrats had been honest back then?

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John Sexton 10:00 PM on June 02, 2023