Hillary Clinton and Change We Can’t Believe In

Ben SchreckingerClinton’s election in November marked the ascendance of the New Democrats and the ideological exile of progressives. But Sanders apparently concluded he could still curry influence with one key member of the Clinton team: the first lady.

One of Bill Clinton’s first acts in office in January of 1993 was to appoint his wife to chair the administration’s Task Force on National Health Care Reform. Sanders had convened his own, much-smaller task force pushing single-payer health care for Vermont, and he began trying to pull Hillary Clinton in that direction.

In February, Sanders requested a meeting with Hillary, “to bring in two Harvard Medical School physicians who have written on the Canadian system,” according to the records of the administration’s task force. Those physicians were Stephanie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, leading advocates for single-payer health care.

They got their meeting at the White House that month, and the two doctors laid out the case for single-payer to the first lady. “She said, ‘You make a convincing case, but is there any force on the face of the earth that could counter the hundreds of millions of the dollars the insurance industry would spend fighting that?'” recalled Himmelstein. “And I said, ‘How about the president of the United States actually leading the American people?’ and she said, ‘Tell me something real.'”

—Ben Schreckinger
When Bernie met Hillary

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