David Brooks writes about the history of Mrs. Clinton’s heavy-handed tactics in the NY Times. In 1993, Jim Cooper, a Congressman from Tennessee, had proposed a health care reform plan as a more bipartisan alternative to HillaryCare. Her response:
But unlike the plan Hillary Clinton came up with then, the Cooper plan did not include employer mandates to force universal coverage.
On June 15, 1993, Cooper met with Clinton to discuss their differences. Clinton was “ice cold” at the meeting, Cooper recalls. “It was the coldest reception of my life. I was excoriated.”
Cooper told her that she was getting pulled too far to the left. He warned that her plan would never get through Congress. Clinton’s response, Cooper now says, was: “We’ll crush you. You’ll wish you never mentioned this to me.”
Perhaps that’s an idle threat coming from an ordinary First Lady, but not when uttered by Hillary Clinton. Her response was to form an anti-Cooper team with the goal of misrepresenting – read "smearing" – Cooper over his centrist positions on health care.
At one meeting in the West Wing, a source told Broder and Johnson, Clinton “kind of got this evil look and said, ‘We’ve got to do something about this Cooper bill. We’ve got to kill it before it goes any further.’ ”
Clinton denounced the Cooper plan as “dangerous and threatening.” Deputies were dispatched to Tennessee to attack his plan. Senator Jay Rockefeller said that Cooper is “a real fraud. I hope he doesn’t make it to this place.” According to Newsweek, Clinton brought an aide with a video camera to a meeting with senators and asked the senators to denounce Cooper on the spot.
What’s old is new again – Barack Obama has a health care plan as part of his campaign platform that does not include a mandatory coverage requirement. We saw the Clintons’ tactics against Obama in South Carolina. Obama is no Cooper-like centrist, but after tonight’s results fail to clearly define the Democratic nominee we can expect to see the Clintons play even dirtier against Obama in coming weeks.
Clinton has turned the debate between universal coverage and universal access into a sort of philosophical holy grail, with a party of righteousness and a party of error. She’s imposed Manichaean categories on a technical issue, just as she did a decade and half ago. And she’s done it even though she hasn’t answered legitimate questions about how she would enforce her universal coverage mandate.
Cooper, who, not surprisingly, supports Barack Obama, believes that Clinton hasn’t changed. “Hillary’s approach is so absolutist, draconian and intolerant, it means a replay of 1993.”
I can only think of one way to enforce a "mandatory coverage" requirement: wage garnishment with a side of criminal prosecution. Foolish enough to show up at the hospital without coverage? You’re going downtown, you freeloading scum!
Sounds pretty draconian to me.