Clinton wobbles on radical health reform
Thursday 21 July 1994
Yesterday, administration officials from Vice-President Al Gore downwards were attempting to dispel the impression of another Oval Office cave-in. A rueful Mr Clinton insisted that his remarks to state governors on Tuesday had been misunderstood. 'After all my efforts at communicating, the point I really made somehow didn't get through,' he said.
That point, he explained to a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House, was that any bill which did not require insurance coverage for all would not work. But a comment that '95 per cent might be enough' has dismayed many of his liberal supporters, encouraged his Republican opponents, and made the passage of a big healthcare package this year more uncertain.
The controversy comes at a bad time for Mr Clinton, as the White House braces itself for a torrid spell in his presidency. If official pronouncements are to be believed, a decision on what would be a deeply unpopular invasion of Haiti has been put off until September at the earliest, and next week offers the reflected glory of the first Israel-Jordan summit here.
But congressional hearings starting on 26 July will put the Whitewater affair back on the front pages. By 10 August, Mr Clinton's lawyers must file a response to the sexual harassment allegations which have been made by Paula Jones.
Not only health care, but also a much-vaunted dollars 30bn ( pounds 20bn) anti-crime bill is bogged down on Capitol Hill. Perhaps most worrying of all to a poll-obsessed White House, Mr Clinton's standing is at its lowest since the dark days of spring 1993.
A CNN-USA Today survey yesterday said his approval rating has sunk to 42 per cent, compared to 50 per cent who disapprove. Only 33 per cent support his handling of foreign policy and 34 per cent his healthcare initiative, while the public's opinion of their President's toughness, honesty and trustworthiness has nose-dived since January.
His main problem is a perception that he cannot get things done. For the first time since the 1992 election, the poll shows that Republicans, not Democrats, are seen as the party more likely to solve the country's problems.
All of this underlines Mr Clinton's need to secure a deal on health care. But whatever emerges will be very different from his original proposals.
Six months ago he promised to veto any bill which did not ensure universal coverage. That threat has evaporated. So too has his original insistence on the 'employer mandate' whereby companies would have to pay 80 per cent of the cost of insurance. That provision was omitted from the version of the bill passed this month by the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
Republicans, who fiercely oppose the employer mandate, predictably hail Mr Clinton's new 'realism' as a shift towards their position.
But what the President gains on the right, he risks losing on the left, as liberals, especially the minority (90- strong in the House of Representatives) favouring a Canadian-style single-payer system, reconsider their position. Not one of the half- dozen versions of health reform circulating on Capitol Hill commands a majority.
Complicating matters further are November's mid- term congressional elections. Expected Democratic losses will weaken Mr Clinton's control of the House and Senate, making an ambitious bill less likely in 1995 or 1996.
For the President, health reform may boil down to a choice between half a loaf now, or none at all thereafter.
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
London property boom built on dirty money
Becky Watts: Stepbrother and his girlfriend named locally as two arrested on suspicion of murder
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...
£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...