Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Chelsea Clinton, (C) daughter of Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, speaks at a roundtable discussion on early childhood education, with State Representative Mary Jane Wallner, (L) and Kelli MacIver Bruns, at McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center January 12, 2016 in Concord, New Hampshire. Chelsea's visit to New Hampshire follows a visit by her father Bill Clinton a week ago. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Tell the Truth about Bernie’s Health Care Stand

Bill MoyersMichael Winship

The Clinton campaign just made a serious mistake.

They sent Hillary and Bill Clinton’s daughter Chelsea out on behalf of her mother to bash Senator Bernie Sanders on the issue of health care.

What’s so wrong with that? Don’t all candidates use family surrogates when and where they can? The Kennedys, for example, deployed a horde of kinfolk for Jack’s campaign for president, then Bobby’s, then Teddy’s.

But when it’s the first time (as this was for Clinton the younger), the surrogate should be sure whereof she speaks, and had better stick to talking about her candidate, not the opponent. Unfortunately, Chelsea Clinton misrepresented Senator Sanders’ position, and her premiere performance on the stump backfired, producing a flood of political donations to Sanders.

Here’s what she said: “Senator Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the [Children’s Health Insurance Program], dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance.” Whew! She would have us believe that the Vermont senator is a one-man wrecking crew, an enraged King Kong – or, to be modern about it, a mendacious Darth Vader – proposing “to go back to an era – before we had the Affordable Care Act – that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.”

Uh, not exactly. In fact, not even close. As Karen Tumulty noted in The Washington Post, Bernie Sanders has long been a champion of a single-payer health care system as the only way to assure that all Americans receive medical coverage. Rather than “strip” millions and millions of people of their health insurance, he wants to be sure millions and millions of people actually get health insurance.

This was Sanders’ position as far back as 1993 when newly-elected President Bill Clinton put First Lady Hillary Clinton in charge of reforming our disheveled and unjust health care system. Her task force huffed and puffed in secret for months, calling in legions of experts and academics, ultimately producing a plan so complicated and impenetrable – not to mention unexplainable – that it would have collapsed of its own ponderous weight even if the Republicans had not propagandized it into a laughing stock of pretensions and inefficiencies that could only make matters worse.

And here’s an ironic note: During that 1993 quest for a health care plan, Secretary Clinton sent Sanders an autographed picture of the two of them, wishing him the best and thanking the senator “for your commitment to real health care access for all Americans.”

 

All these years later, Sanders is still fighting the battle for single payer, Medicare-like coverage for all, even as fellow Democrats capitulated to the siren songs of the health and insurance industries. President Obama, himself a one-time advocate of single payer coverage, buckled to the insurance companies and its lobbyists and minions in Congress and agreed to health care legislation (the Affordable Care Act) that would continue to treat healing the sick as a profit center instead of a basic human right.

And look at former presidential candidate and single payer advocate Howard Dean, Bernie’s fellow Vermonter, who went on MSNBC this week and said that the Sanders plan “would in fact undo people’s health care… That is something people should be concerned about.”

Why the change of heart? Maybe because Dean “now serves as senior advisor to the law firm Dentons, where he works with the firm’s Public Policy and Regulation practice, a euphemism for Dentons’ lobbying team,” Lee Fang reports at The Intercept. “… The Dentons Public Policy and Regulation practice lobbies on behalf of a variety of corporate health care interests, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America [PhRMA], a powerful trade group for drugmakers like Pfizer and Merck.”

Fang notes that, “Incumbent health care interests, particularly drug companies and insurers, have long viewed single-payer as a threat to their business model,” and points to documents that we uncovered in 2009 on Bill Moyers Journal with the help of former health insurance executive, now whistleblower Wendell Potter. They showed a systematic plan by health insurers to discredit single payer.

As president of the Clinton Foundation, the richly endowed philanthropy that has become the family’s private station for public causes, Chelsea Clinton must know this. The cynic might think the more than $2.6 million given so far by the health industry to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and outside groups supporting her (three times that of any other candidate, Democrat or Republican) might be leading Chelsea Clinton to use the same kind of false accusations so long used against her parents. But why would any of the family, their campaign team, advisors and supporters assume that the public would accept such a wild and irresponsible distortion?


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers is a veteran journalist, broadcaster, and author. Former managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, his previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three and a half decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including "Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues," "Moyers on Democracy," and "Healing and the Mind." He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News, and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards.

Michael Winship

Michael Winship

Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow at the progressive news outlet Common Dreams, where he writes and edits political analysis and commentary. He is a Writers Guild East council member and its immediate past president and a veteran television writer and producer who has created programming for America’s major PBS stations, CBS, the Discovery and Learning Channels, A&E, Turner Broadcasting, the Disney Channel, Lifetime, Sesame Workshop (formerly the Children’s Television Workshop) and National Geographic, among others. In 2008, he joined his longtime friend and colleague Bill Moyers at Bill Moyers Journal on PBS and their writing collaboration has been close ever since. They share an Emmy and three Writers Guild Awards for writing excellence. Winship’s television work also has been honored by the Christopher, Western Heritage, Genesis and CableACE Awards.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Federal Judge Allows 'Untenable' Plan to Send Juvenile Inmates to Angola Prison

"The move defies all common sense and best practices, and it will cause irrevocable damage to our youth and families," said one children's advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Catastrophic': Arizona Judge Allows 1864 Abortion Ban to Go Into Effect

"No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom," said one rights advocate.

Julia Conley ·


US Progressives Express Solidarity With Iranian Protesters After Death of Mahsa Amini

"The right to choose belongs to us all, from hijabs to reproductive care," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·


Critics of Louisiana LNG Project 'Hopeful' as Huge Sales Contracts Canceled

"The fight is not over," says one activist, but "from tax breaks to pollution and now to these recent financial downswings, we have all the evidence we need to understand that Driftwood will be a parasite."

Jessica Corbett ·


DHS Officials Urge Biden to End 'Disastrous Leadership' of Embattled IG

In an anonymous letter, the Homeland Security staffers say Inspector General Joseph Cuffari's actions "embarrass the entire agency."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo