“Almost everything anyone today writes about this stuff is wrong. It’s a classic example of how in a war, the victors get to write history.
“Basically, everybody who writes about this stuff today repeats the health-insurance lobby’s line from 1994. Like: “The bill was long and complicated.” The bill took out four hundred more pages of federal law than it put in. They say we forced a bill on Congress — untrue. I asked Congress to write the bill, and Chairman [Dan] Rostenkowski [of the House Ways and Means Committee] demanded that Hillary send him a bill — a complete bill. He said, “I won’t take it up if you don’t. We don’t know enough about it, the interest groups will eat us alive, we’ll modify your bill, but you’ve gotta send us a whole bill.” It was the demand of the most important committee in the House of Representatives. And yet I’ve read over a hundred stories saying what a terrible mistake we made, it was all our doing. We did what Congress asked us to do. We also got two bills out of two committees for the first time ever. Harry Truman tried to do this, Richard Nixon tried to do it, Lyndon Johnson didn’t even try, with the biggest congressional majority in history. He didn’t even try — he quit at Medicare and Medicaid, because he knew how hard it was…”
“And we now know, and I’m surer of this than anything: We just couldn’t do [health-care reform] as long as Bob Dole was running for president. He’s a good guy, and he’s a friend of mine, and the whole time I dealt with him, the only time he was not as good as his word was on this. After Rostenkowski had asked for a bill, I personally asked Bob in the Cabinet Room if we could sit down and write a bill together and send a joint bill to the Congress. Because he was really good on health care for a Republican, cared about it, and he said, ‘You know, you need to send a bill in and we need to produce a bill, so that people know there are differences between the two parties and our approaches. Then we’ll get together and compromise it out.’ When he said that, I think he believed it. Then he gets Bill Kristol’s famous memo that says, you know, If you let Bill Clinton pass any kind of health-care bill, the Democrats will be the majority party for a generation, and you can forget about your presidential hopes. Your only option is to beat anything. Kill it off.”