Paul Krugman mentioned in a column last week that he wants to hear health care specifics from Mrs. Clinton since she has received significant contributions from the insurance industry. As usual, Krugman has it exactly right. The healthcare policy gauntlet has already been thrown down, first by John Edwards and now by Barack Obama. Hillary has been notably silent other than to vaguely pledge that she supports universal health coverage. Sorry, but this type of cautious front-running reminds me of Al Gore in 2000, and we all know what happened after that. Progressive voters should insist on seeing policy specifics, because that may tell us much about whether Hillary is owned by the special interest groups which are supporting her candidacy.
Here are the facts regarding Hillary Clinton’s contributors. Go here to see her career profile of contributors. Interestingly, the insurance industry is only 14th. However, as evidence that she is gaining clout, in the 2006 election cycle she was number 4 in receiving money from the insurance industry.
Here’s why it matters. Any serious proposal to achieve universal health coverage must significantly reduce, if not eliminate, private health insurance. Both Edwards and Obama’s plans have options whereby patients may choose a type of government health insurance. It is likely that as more and more patients select the government insurance option, private health insurance will be phased out. Good riddance, I say.
So…will Hillary Clinton’s healthcare policy match those of Obama and Edwards and allow the government to compete fairly against the private insurance plans? Only HRC knows the answer to that. But if she doesn’t allow for this most basic step towards achieving universal health coverage, than progressives should be very wary of her candidacy. That will signal that she, much like her husband, is seeking a “third way” in which to govern. That third way turned out to be very good for Bill and Hillary Clinton, not so good for the Democratic party in general and progressive policies in particular.
Let’s face it. The current stalemate in Congress is a disappointment to progressives. Other than the minimum wage, whatever mandate was evident in the November 2006 elections has not translated into progressive policies. It is not enough to merely elect Democrats. We must elect progressive candidates if we want to see progressive policies enacted. It is not yet clear whether Hillary Clinton is a progressive candidate. The details of her healthcare policy may be the first signal as to whether progressives should support or oppose her candidacy. Hillary, we’re waiting.