GOP’s New Health Care Hero: Bill Clinton

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at the closing session of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on September 26, 2013 in New York City. Timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly, CGI brings together heads of state, CEOs, philanthropists and others to help find solutions to the world's major problems.
National Journal
Tim Alberta
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Tim Alberta
Nov. 12, 2013, 11:04 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­ans have dis­covered an un­likely ally in their quest to de­feat a Demo­crat­ic pres­id­ent’s health care plan: Bill Clin­ton.

The former pres­id­ent, who has Re­pub­lic­ans to thank for the de­mise of his own health care pro­pos­al in the mid-90s, non­ethe­less de­livered a neatly-pack­aged polit­ic­al gift to the GOP on Tues­day. In an in­ter­view with the di­git­al magazine OZY.com, Clin­ton, asked about Obama­care’s rocky rol­lout, con­cluded: “I per­son­ally be­lieve even if it takes a change to the law, the pres­id­ent should hon­or the com­mit­ment the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment made to those people and let them keep what they got.”

Clin­ton’s re­buke is the latest head­ache for an Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion that has been be­sieged with cri­ti­cism — from both sides of the aisle — over the ugly im­ple­ment­a­tion of the Af­ford­able Care Act.

On the flip side, Clin­ton’s re­marks provided a con­veni­ent ral­ly­ing point for con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans com­mit­ted to dis­mant­ling Obama­care piece by piece. In fact, the tim­ing of Clin­ton’s re­marks couldn’t be bet­ter: House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship has planned a vote this week on the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” which would al­low Obama­care’s “grand­fath­er­ing” rule to ap­ply to any health care plan that ex­is­ted pri­or to Janu­ary 2013. One Demo­crat, Rep. John Bar­row of Geor­gia, has already pledged sup­port for the meas­ure, and Clin­ton’s com­ments make it all the like­li­er that Demo­crats will see ad­di­tion­al de­fec­tions when the vote oc­curs on Fri­day.

To that end, GOP lead­er­ship wasted no time seiz­ing on Clin­ton’s re­marks. “I ap­plaud Pres­id­ent Clin­ton for join­ing the bi­par­tis­an call for Pres­id­ent Obama to keep his prom­ise to the Amer­ic­an people. These com­ments sig­ni­fy a grow­ing re­cog­ni­tion that Amer­ic­ans were misled when they were prom­ised that they could keep their cov­er­age un­der Pres­id­ent Obama’s health care law,” Speak­er John Boehner said in a Tues­day af­ter­noon state­ment that ended thusly: “Pres­id­ent Clin­ton un­der­stood that gov­ern­ing in a di­vided Wash­ing­ton re­quires a fo­cus on com­mon ground, and I hope Pres­id­ent Obama will fol­low the former pres­id­ent’s lead.”

Boehner was joined by the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee and sev­er­al power­ful con­ser­vat­ive out­side groups — in­clud­ing the Club for Growth — in blast­ing out Clin­ton’s re­marks Tues­day. Wheth­er co­ordin­ated or not, the cam­paign caught on quickly, and by mid-af­ter­noon dozens of Re­pub­lic­an law­makers were tweet­ing their un­likely al­li­ance with the former pres­id­ent whose health care philo­sophy they loved to hate. Some high­lights:

Today, Pres. Clin­ton and I ac­tu­ally agree. If you like your cur­rent #health­care plan, you should be able to keep it ht­tp://t.co/9pS­VCX0w­B9

— Rep. Chris Stew­art (@Rep­Chris­Stew­art) Novem­ber 12, 2013

We totally agree, Mr. Pres­id­ent! @Free­Beacon: “Bill Clin­ton: Obama Should Hon­or His “˜Keep Your Plan’ Prom­ise” ht­tp://t.co/oAX5Os1EOC

— John Mc­Cain (@Sen­John­M­c­Cain) Novem­ber 12, 2013

Even Pres­id­ent Clin­ton says Obama Ad­min should “hon­or the com­mit­ment” and let people keep their health in­sur­ance ht­tp://t.co/Mp­kuKX­LikB

— Rep. Paul Gos­ar, DDS (@Rep­Gosar) Novem­ber 12, 2013

One of the rare times I agree with the former pres­id­ent.//Bill Clin­ton: Let people keep health plans ht­tp://t.co/kN7EGJ272w

— Rep­Kev­in­Brady (@Rep­Kev­in­Brady) Novem­ber 12, 2013

.@BillClin­ton-POTUS should “hon­or the com­mit­ment” fed gov’t made & let Amer­ic­ans keep their cov­er­age un­der #Obama­care ht­tp://t.co/B9wsGmFW2N

— Di­ane Black (@Rep­Di­ane­Black) Novem­ber 12, 2013

Pres Clin­ton and I agree, Amer­ic­ans should be al­lowed to keep the health cov­er­age they chose be­fore this #train­wreck ht­tp://t.co/tDTeOdU6f9

— Matt Sal­mon (@Rep­Matt­Sal­mon) Novem­ber 12, 2013

Bill Clin­ton: ‘Pres­id­ent Should Hon­or the Com­mit­ment’ & Let People Keep Their In­sur­ance Plans @weeklys­tand­ard: ht­tp://t.co/so­JE2R­vOGm

— Sen­at­or John Thune (@Sen­JohnThune) Novem­ber 12, 2013

Even Pres­id­ent Clin­ton says Pres­id­ent Obama broke his “If you like it, you can keep it” prom­ise. #Fair­ness­For­All pic.twit­ter.com/X379QJK­S0N

— Ann Wag­n­er (@Re­pAn­n­Wag­n­er) Novem­ber 12, 2013

Pres. Bill Clin­ton agrees w/ Keep Your Health Plan Act mak­ing good on @white­house broken prom­ise: ht­tp://t.co/8uairmASoC

— John Kline (@rep­johnk­line) Novem­ber 12, 2013

Former Pres. Bill Clin­ton is now weigh­ing in on the Obama­care de­bacle. He says let con­sumers keep ex­ist­ing plans. ht­tp://t.co/9uFK­MUfcDa

— Dav­id B. McKin­ley (@Rep­M­cKin­ley) Novem­ber 12, 2013

A prom­ise is a prom­ise: if you like your health care plan, you should be able to keep it. RT if you agree with us and Pres­id­ent Bill Clin­ton

— Blake Far­enthold (@far­enthold) Novem­ber 12, 2013

Pres­id­ent Clin­ton agrees @BarackObama should work with us to al­low Amer­ic­ans to keep the plan they chose: ht­tp://t.co/2pN­Fss7k­mG #arpx #ar1

— Rep Rick Craw­ford (@Re­pRick­Craw­ford) Novem­ber 12, 2013

RT if you agree w/ Pres­id­ent Clin­ton: #POTUS should hon­or com­mit­ment he made to people & let them keep what they have ht­tp://t.co/2qn­NvC95et

— Small­B­izGOP (@Small­B­izGOP) Novem­ber 12, 2013

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