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President what‚s-his-name


Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Sheila Bapat
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 21, 2000
Talk about this story

Who is the guy that's been living in the White House for the past seven years? Not that it matters now, for as far as most of the public is concerned, he is as good as gone. The new guys vying for the job are now gracing the covers of TIME magazine, and the GOP Boy Wonder, George W. Bush Jr., seems to have captured the camera's eye more than the Oval Office in recent months.

But President what's-his-name has not yet given in to the title "lame duck." Yesterday he proposed a monstrous $110 billion health care initiative that accomplishes several political goals in one shot.

First, it has no chance of being passed by the Republican Congress. As Robert Pear reported in the Jan. 20 issue of New York Times, "It seems unlikely that a Congress controlled by Republicans would make a political gift to Mr. Gore by approving his proposals or adopting the President's package intact." Clinton is well aware of this and will spin the story to death, portraying Congress as incompetent and uncaring. He will again be the shining star with 300% approval ratings as he traipses out of the White House.

Second, the plan resembles the health plan Al Gore has been promoting for several months. Clinton claims that Gore's plan is more comprehensive than his own. However, both of them expand existing programs including the Children Health Insurance Program and Medicaid. On the other hand, Gore's opponent, former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, is attempting to completely revamp national health care, dismantling programs like Medicaid and starting anew. For the White House to support a proposal so similar to Gore's, and one that Gore helped develop, is indirectly lending support to Gore's own plan.

Clinton's plan also expands state options to assist legal immigrants and gives a 20 percent tax credit to small businesses who have not offered health insurance to their employees before. Most significantly, the plan allocates $1 billion over 10 years to assist public clinics, hospitals and encourage health care providers to assist the uninsured. This addresses the critical issue of giving aid to uninsured that the Republican candidates have had the luxury of ignoring during the primaries, but will be hit hard with in November.

In proposing such a comprehensive health care package during his final year in office, Clinton is also healing old political wounds.

He won in 1992 under the promise of universal health care. The first plan, which crashed and burned early in his first term, was one of the few political failures Clinton could not spin his way out of. To leave office with some positive health care initiative under his belt will help erase the earlier mistake from his record.

Health care is yet again a hot campaign topic, and Clinton is taking advantage of this to leave office on a high note. But even more interesting is the new image Clinton has suddenly gained, or lost, as a result of the upcoming presidential election.

In a recent PBS interview, Clinton said he is "proud" of both Democratic candidates and watches the debates eagerly. He refuses to criticize Bradley's health care plan; when questioned about it recently he simply stated, "I am elated that health care is an issue in the campaign." The once active and controversial president, who exactly one year ago was facing the threat of impeachment, is now the older wiser has-been watching the underlings fight for his position. His own health care proposal is an attempt to prove he is still around; a politician who enjoys the spotlight as much as Clinton cannot give it up very easily.

As much as America would like him to fade away, a consummate politician can never be a lame duck.

Sheila Bapat is a political science sophomore. She can be reached at editor@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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