Boomerang: Clinton's Health Security Effort and the Turn against Government in U. S. Politics

Boomerang: Clinton's Health Security Effort and the Turn against Government in U. S. Politics

by Theda Skocpol
     
 

Health reform, a popular issue that Bill Clinton and the Democrats skillfully featured in the 1992 campaign, became the spearpoint of the most concerted attack on government in recent American history. One year after it had been introduced to acclaim from almost all quarters, Clinton's compromise plan lay in political wreckage. In this incisive account, a… See more details below

Overview

Health reform, a popular issue that Bill Clinton and the Democrats skillfully featured in the 1992 campaign, became the spearpoint of the most concerted attack on government in recent American history. One year after it had been introduced to acclaim from almost all quarters, Clinton's compromise plan lay in political wreckage. In this incisive account, a prize-winning Harvard social scientist draws on contemporary documents, media coverage, and confidential White House strategy memos to offer deep insights into the changing terrain of U.S. politics and public policy. President Clinton and his closest advisers thought they had found an ideal "middle way" between excessive government regulation end the play of free market forces in their plan to extend health care coverage to all Americans, not foreseeing that they were creating an ideal target for their political enemies. By 1994 the conservatives needed a cause to attract middle-class voters and unite widespread groups in opposition to the federal government and an already weakened Democratic party. The Health Security bill, as Theda Skocpol discloses, inadvertently became a perfect foil for antigovernment mobilization. Its enemies found it easy to distort while its supporters failed to marshal their forces at a critical time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
President Clinton's defeated health care reform proposal was not the cost-raising, byzantine, cumbersome, choice-restricting mess that critics made it out to be, according to Skocpol, a professor of government and sociology at Harvard. The Clinton initiative, she insists, would have led, over time, to significantly less government involvement than we have now; its proposed regulations of insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, employers and state governments would have driven down costs and discouraged excessive spending on high-tech medicine, she maintains. In her scenario, Clinton's bill served as a convenient foil for ideologically committed Republicans who rallied the public against the Democrats and against federal social legislation in general, thus paving the way for the Republican triumph in the 1994 congressional elections. While her analysis is often unconvincing, her trenchant critique of the Clinton administration's failure to build a coalition to deepen public support for its health plan holds important lessons for all who wish to revitalize the Democratic Party. Photos.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
President Clinton's defeated health care reform proposal was not the cost-raising, byzantine, cumbersome, choice-restricting mess that critics made it out to be, according to Skocpol, a professor of government and sociology at Harvard. The Clinton initiative, she insists, would have led, over time, to significantly less government involvement than we have now; its proposed regulations of insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, employers and state governments would have driven down costs and discouraged excessive spending on high-tech medicine, she maintains. In her scenario, Clinton's bill served as a convenient foil for ideologically committed Republicans who rallied the public against the Democrats and against federal social legislation in general, thus paving the way for the Republican triumph in the 1994 congressional elections. While her analysis is often unconvincing, her trenchant critique of the Clinton administration's failure to build a coalition to deepen public support for its health plan holds important lessons for all who wish to revitalize the Democratic Party. Photos. (Apr.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
What went wrong with Clinton's 1993-94 plan to enact healthcare reform? Skocpol, a liberal social scientist, author of Protecting Soldiers and Mothers (LJ 2/15/93), and occasional Clinton adviser, asserts that the president was between a rock and a hard place in devising and promoting his "Health Security" bill. She points out that he was fighting against the deep suspicions of the federal government held by increasing numbers of the American electorate-a legacy of the Reagan years, she argues. Clinton's options were greatly limited because he was unable politically to push for a single-payer system (which the author supports) and because he was committed ideologically to offering universal coverage. Above all else, Clinton was trying to avoid mentioning new taxes and government control. But because his bill required complex (though indirect) government management of competition among healthcare providers and because it mandated sizable employer contributions to employee health insurance costs, opponents seized upon the supposed threat to individual choice and business solvency. Skocpol also places blame for the bill's failure on the Democrats' disunity. As a detailed critique of the mistakes the Clinton administration made in its doomed attempt to reform healthcare and a political defense of Clinton's Health Security bill, this is recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Jack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego Smith, Peter H.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393039702
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
05/01/1996
Pages:
230
Product dimensions:
6.45(w) x 9.49(h) x 1.12(d)

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