President Barack Obama heads for Capitol Hill tomorrow to address a joint session of Congress on one of the most pressing issues of the day, healthcare reform. For those with middling-to-long memories of Washington, this may have a familiar ring. Another Democratic president argued for healthcare reform on another September day some 16 years ago, and somehow healthcare remains unreformed.
Back then, it was President Bill Clinton, who spoke to Congress on September 22, 1993. That speech was full of sounding phrases like “healthcare that can never be taken away” and “security, simplicity and savings.” It also paid tribute to contributions from then-first lady and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose efforts to change U.S. healthcare went down to defeat.
Obama tried out some sounding phrases of his own on Labor Day in Cincinnati, calling on Congress to pass healthcare legislation this year.
Those who question Obama’s plans to reform the American health insurance system have noted the earlier Clinton efforts to do the same thing — and the earlier failure. Fox News warned about “echoes” of the Clinton plan. Politico.com said “history does not seem to be on (Obama’s) side”, citing the Clinton speech and noting that the Clinton healthcare reform plan was dead a year later.
It’s a different time, a different economy, a different president. But will it be deja vu all over again when Obama gives his prime-time health care speech tomorrow? Let us know what you think.