A few weeks ago, Mitt Romney's campaign gleefully proclaimed a readiness to debate "HillaryCare" with the Democratic frontrunner. Well, on Monday, Senator Clinton detailed her plan to bring universal care to America. So let the debate begin -- but when it comes to small business, the Massachusetts governor might not like how the judges rule.
Mitt Romney's new proposal fudges his record as Massachusetts governor, where he signed into a law a bold reform of health insurance in the state. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, unambiguously embraces the legacy of her disastrous 1993 universal health care initiative, which failed to win support from conservatives and some prominent Democrats alike.
OK -- enough with that conceit. In truth, if Romney wants to debate Clinton, he might as well go a round with Edwards and especially Richardson, since their plans are fundamentally similar. But let's start with what's different. First, there's a big nod to small business, "the engine of job creation in America," as she put it in her speech in Des Moines. Clinton proposes a tax credit for small businesses to defray the cost of insuring their workers. (On the other hand, big businesses that don't offer coverage will have to chip in for the government substitute.) As far as I can tell, no other candidate has extended the tax credit to small employers. Oddly, no comment on that yet from the National Federation of Independent Businesses -- what, you guys don't think it's a good idea?
Otherwise, you'd be hard-pressed to distinguish Clinton's plan from the others, including, in some respects, the law Romney signed in Massachusetts. (You can read more about Clinton's initiative here and much more here, and if you demand still more, download a pdf of the full plan here/. You can also read the speech she gave in Des Moines.) All would require everyone to purchase insurance, and those who can't (or won't) get it through their employers could chose from government plans, including "the same wide variety of private plans that members of Congress choose from." The price tag is roughly the same: she's put it at $110 billion. Who will pay for it? Some of our readers will certainly contribute: Clinton pledges to roll back the Bush tax cuts on high income, and she'd limit the premium deduction that companies now take for employees making over $250,000.
The Senator laid the groundwork for her plan this summer by proposing steps to reduce health care costs, which are, as we all know, "spiraling." (Watch this space for more on that.) Improved information technology, an emphasis on prevention and managing chronic illness: here again the substance is not so different from what her colleagues have suggested, including some Republicans -- even Romney. Romney, if he wanted, could debate himself -- it might last hours!