As the nation awaits Hillary Clinton’s decision of whether or not she will run for president in 2016, a cache of 7,500 pages of newly released documents from Bill Clinton’s years in the White House show some familiar political themes. One revelation is that Bill Clinton worried that a massive new healthcare scheme would cause Americans to lose their insurance.
In 1993, the President allowed his wife, first lady Hillary Clinton, to become the face of an Obamacare-like takeover of the nation’s healthcare system. The plan was sarcastically dubbed Hillarycare. But as these internal documents show, in what is now a familiar refrain, Bill Clinton was worried that Americans would turn against the plan if they found out they would lose the insurance they already had.
In one series of memos discussing Hillarycare, Bill was clearly worried that his wife’s scheme was a nonstarter with voters. “A lot of them want to know they can keep their own plan if they like it,” he said, presciently echoing the debate Americans are currently having over Obamacare.
These documents show that Democrats not only knew as far back as 2008 that a massive overhaul of health care would cause millions of Americans to lose their insurance, but they knew all the way back in 1993 that it would happen.
Yet, despite this decades’ old foreknowledge, in 2008, President Obama began selling Obamacare by telling America that we could “keep our doctors and healthcare plans” if we “liked them.” This turned out to be the lie of the year after Obamacare was passed, in part, because the President lied when he said that no one would lose the coverage they had.
These new documents also reveal which legislators the Clinton White House thought it would have to convince to vote “yes” to force passage of Hillarycare.
According to the documents, then-Senators Joe Biden and John Kerry were identified as “no” votes on Hillarycare. Of course, once Obama took office, Biden, who is now vice president, and now-Secretary of State Kerry, were both converted to enthusiastic supporters of a federal takeover of our national healthcare system.
On the other hand, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas was identified as a possible “swing” vote in favor of Hillarycare. Dole, a long-time Republican power broker, would later become the GOP nominee for president. But he would lose his 1996 bid, giving Clinton a second term in office despite Clinton’s massive loss of prestige during the 1994 midterms that resulted in a GOP takeover of both Houses.
“We got slaughtered,” communications aide David Dreyer wrote in a November memo after the ’94 election. “Event of historic proportions. Worse bloodbath since 1922 in the Harding administration, but even he didn’t lose control of both chambers,” he lamented.
After that, Hillarycare died and would not be reborn until Obama began to push Obamacare in 2008.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.