Every time I’ve ever read some piece of punditry claiming that the Clinton health care plan of the ‘90s died because it was too “top heavy” in regulations, included an option for a public plan that was sooo unpopular because – horrors! – it reeked of the dreaded “socialized medzin,” or (worst of all), because it was done so secretively by that mean, non-cookie-baking first lady Hillary (and by the way, sorry to hear about this; hope she gets better soon), I was always tempted to dismiss it all because it was probably pulled from one of the writer’s bodily orifices.
And then I came across this great post by Nate Silver yesterday that confirms my suspicions (and, more importantly, shows no sign of erosion for a public health option, something I wish our senators would note based on this).
What Silver does is to show the approval numbers for the Clinton plan at various points during ’93-’94, and he sums them up as follows (noting that this is a bit of an oversimplification)…
The approval polling suggests that Clinton was benefiting when he was doing the most direct salesmanship of the bill. A joint address to Congress on September 22, 1993 was met with a sudden jump in Clinton’s approval rating. Although that bounce was short-lived, his approval rating then continued to improve throughout the balance of 1993 as a health care bill was presented to Congress in November. It was only when the bill was left to linger before Congress in the spring of 1994 that both its fortunes and those of Clinton began to suffer. Clinton’s approval rating hit a nadir at 39 percent on August 16, 1994, the lowest it would be for the rest of his Presidency, which is right about when George Mitchell was making it clear that no bill had the votes to pass the Senate.
What I take away from this is that, when the case for the public plan is made, the support is there. However, when that gets drowned out by the typical right-wing lies on this subject (which usually reach their loudest volume when the plan details are getting hammered out by Congress), that’s when health care reform for real goes up in smoke.
And right on cue, we have this from Repug U.S. House Rep John Shadegg, who tells us that “your health care benefit will be taxed,” which is disingenuous because 1) the tax would be on the employer, who would surely pass off some portion at least to the employee, I’ll admit, even though 2) “Straight Talk” McCain proposed the same thing during the election last year (here…and by the way, the other five RNC-approved talking points rehashed by Shadegg are nothing but propaganda).
With this in mind, please note that Shadegg received over $244,000 from the healthcare sector, over $168,000 of which was from healthcare political action committees (in the 2008 campaign finance cycle), and he also sponsored legislation to increase the number of work visas for registered nurses coming to this country from abroad (great move with so many in this country out of work; by the way, I don’t know if the post I linked to here on this is tongue-in-cheek or not).
Finally, if anyone has any doubt as to whether or not funding a public health care option is a good idea, I would ask that you consider the following from here which tells us that the cost would be at least comparable to what we’re already paying to bail out the “banksters” (and to contact your senators to tell them to support the public option on health care, click here – the pic above of President Lyndon Johnson signing the bill into law creating Medicare, with President Truman looking on, serves as a reminder that we can do this, people).