, Newburyport, MA

November 15, 2013

The why of Clinton's advice

Bill Plante's North Shore
Newburyport Daily News

---- — The seemingly endless complications attending President Obama’s national health care law were made even more interesting this week by former President Bill Clinton’s reasonable political advice to Obama to honor his promise.

The president had said that “young people who liked their health care plans could keep them.”

The short of reality? They can’t, and turmoil follows. A considerable number are befuddled.

Some members of the Senate and all the members of the House who are seeking re-election are understandably concerned. But Republicans who did not support Obamacare don’t have to face what Democrats must.

Obama can’t shrug off Clinton’s observation without considering consequences.

Among them is what appears to be the making of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s second attempt to become America’s first woman president. Holding the Senate and regaining the House by Democrats will be a major part of that campaign.

That is not to say that is at the heart of Bill Clinton’s advice, but it can’t be dismissed. There is no easy fix, and the rush to pass this law did not leave much time for considering consequences.

Hillary, lest we forget, took on the need for national health care early in her husband’s first term but had to pack it in.

Clinton’s advice resonates politically with those members of his party either seeking re-election this year or seeking it for the first time.

The reality? President Obama is between the celebrated rock and the hard place.

Considering the snail’s pace of compliance and blossoming political fallout, the significance of Clinton’s advice cannot be taken lightly.

He remains not only the most politically experienced member of his party, but he has been as active out of office as he was in, and is not to be considered lightly.

Debate the issues involved as one might, what stands out at this moment are the errors in the Affordable Care Act. Considering the turbulence that led to the passage of a bill so large and so complicated that the bulk of those voting did so, support for or against the law has been on party lines.

That is no longer the case.

Reaction to what was supposed to be Obama’s major contribution of his presidency, small wonder the concerns of Washington’s Democratic office holders.

What is not known is whether Clinton’s advice was independent of Obama’s awareness.

The two have been close, and the list of Clinton’s suggestions to Obama over time is substantial.

There is a difference, however.

Hillary is no longer Secretary of State, and a second run to become our first woman president lies just ahead.

What remains unclear is whether Bill Clinton’s call for action — “ ... even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got” — was no surprise to Obama.

Given their relationship, that might well have been the case.

If not, Clinton is looking to what lies ahead for Democrat candidates in general, but for Hillary in particular.


Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His email address is