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In 1993, with the help of then Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, President Clinton introduced a plan to reform the American health care system. The plan—and the debate that ensued as a result of it—captivated the nation. As a member of the Senate, Tom Daschle joined the liberal quest for universal health care. After months of disputing the particulars of the bill, however, Daschle found himself holding the short end of the health care reform stick. President Clinton’s efforts were declared dead in September of 1994.
Now, 16 years later, Mr. Daschle and President Obama are picking up where Clinton left off. In his latest book, Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis, released in 2008, Daschle lays out his plan to transfer health care power from individuals to the government. In 2009, President Obama nominated Daschle to fill the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle withdrew his nomination after it was revealed that he had failed to pay over $130,000 in taxes.
Having to withdraw his nomination did not deter Daschle from continuing to push for universal coverage. According to a recent New York Times article:
…these days it often seems as if Mr. Daschle never left the picture. With unrivaled ties on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, he talks constantly with top White House advisers, many of whom previously worked for him.
He still speaks frequently to the president, who met with him as recently as Friday morning in the Oval Office. And he remains a highly paid policy adviser to hospital, drug, pharmaceutical and other health care industry clients of Alston & Bird, the law and lobbying firm.
Now the White House and Senate Democratic leaders appear to be moving toward a blueprint for overhauling the health system, centered on nonprofit insurance cooperatives, that Mr. Daschle began promoting two months ago as a politically feasible alternative to a more muscular government-run insurance plan.
Unfortunately for Daschle and the White House, the health care reform being proposed by Congress is as bad of an idea now as it was in 1993 and it is proving to be just as difficult to defend. In '93, Daschle attempted to explain President Clinton's reform plans to Jan Helfeld. Much like today's Democrats, he struggled to find support for a very unpopular bill.