Richard Epstein Proves Unintelligible...

Yes, Getting ObamaCare Through Was a Huge Accomplishment. Why Do You Ask?


Live from La Farine: class="author">Scott Lemieux**: Lawyers, Guns & Money: "It’s hard to be sure, given how badly bungled it was by the Clintons...

...but my guess is that as far as comprehensive health care reform in 1993 they were drawing dead anyway.  On health care, the Republican conference was already where it would be on pretty much everything in 2009; he was not getting more than token Republican support.

The Democratic caucus was both smaller and more conservative in 1993 than it was in 2009. The Finance Committee Chair was Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was both hostile to health care reform and a consummate preening @33hole--a man, in other words, who could make you appreciate Max Baucus.  Clinton didn’t deal with him well but I doubt it mattered in the end.

IIRC, the Treasury Department health-policy staff view in 1993-1994 was that we did have a chance. The strategy dimly envisioned was something like:

  1. Get 218 Democratic representatives and 50 Democratic senators to sign a letter in late 1993 about how, if health care reform did not pass by September 29, 1994, they would pass Medicare-for-all in a bill Reconciliation Bill on September 30.

  2. Get the 1994 Budget Resolution passed in April 1994 to make that threat credible.

  3. Flatter Moynihan's vanity by sending the HHS and Treasury Assistant Secretaries over to drink whiskey with him and respectfully listen to him pontificate.

  4. Point out to Dole that if he was there presenting the bill to Clinton, Clinton would not have any sort of advantage in the 2016 Presidential election.

  5. Play on Dole's desire for a positive capstone legislative accomplishment so that he would be known as an American statesman rather than the guy the supply-siders had bamboozled in 1981.

  6. Let Dole's chief health care aide Sheila Burke write the bill.

But that was not the strategy the Clinton administration adopted. In fact, if there was a strategy for getting the 60 votes in the Senate for cloture, nobody in the White House ever even hinted to me what it might be.