Obama Revives 1993 Anti Hillary ‘Harry and Louise’ updated
cross-posted at Huffington Post

In 1993, the health insurance industry spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to scare people into opposing universal health care. Here’s a screen shot from the infamous Harry and Louise ad.


Nothing like channeling insurance industry talking points, complete with art. As
Paul Krugman says
, the politics of hope, indeed. For those of you have been around for a while, you’ll likely remember this beauty from 1993.

I’ve just gotten off a media call from the Clinton campaign denouncing the mailer from Obama. They had a lot of help from experts. On the call they mentioned expecting this type of Republican talking points in the general election, but found Obama’s mailer “very distressing” coming from a Democrat, going so far as to say it could damage the general efforts of getting universal health care going forward. On the call was a former John Edwards adviser on health care, Peter Harbage. He is not joining the campaign, and he had not talked to Edwards about being part of the call. However, he believed the Obama campaign mailer “drives to the lowest common denominator.” The experts on the call accused Obama of trying to “demonize” Hillary Clinton. Len Nichols, director of the health policy program fort he New America Foundation, who is also uncommitted, was particularly furious about the Obama mailer, which he feels uses the same language the insurance industry did to attack Hillary’s plan in 1993. Nichols characterized the mailer as “so far over the line” that he was personally “outraged” by it. He said Obama should “retract it,” retract the mailer. He went further to call it “disgusting,” and called Barack Obama personally “disingenuous.”

It’s exactly as Ben Smith stated, showing the mailer: a
flood of negative mail.

Clinton mentioned last night that the forces wanting to stop universal health
care spent $300 million to attack her in 1993. Well today, Barack Obama is spending
some of his big bucks to act as an agent against universal health care. He knows
her plan is better. It doesn’t leave 15 million people out, as well as aligns her with
John Edwards. You have to wonder what he’d think about these negative and patently
false mailers.


“The mailer is wrong and misleading.” – Peter Harbage, former Edwards health care adviser
a page from Obama’s false mailer


Clinton rebuts Obama’s attempt to “demonize” her plan and universal health care in general:

Sen. Obama fails to mention Hillary’s
plan cuts costs just as aggressively as Sen. Obama, if not more so
.

Hillary’s plan contains more
generous subsidies
than the Obama plan. Noted health expert Ken Thorpe
of Emory University concluded that under the Hillary plan, everyone
will be able to afford coverage.

The Obama plan leaves
15 million people out
, which drives
up costs
because everyone else ends up subsidizing their emergency
care.

Mr. Hope and unity in action. Saying anything to win, include parroting wingnut talking points that could scuttle efforts to get universal health care, by sewing doubt into the electoral fabric.

Universal health care is something that should be as important to Democrats as Social Security. It’s yet another rung on the social network ladder that F.D.R. began so long ago that has become the foundation of the Democratic party. That Barack Obama is demonizing Hillary Clinton’s efforts using right-wing tools should send a chill through the entire progressive network.

UPDATE II: Ezra Klein:

… .. In the end, his plan is not universal, does not attempt to be, and is probably less generous in its affordability provisions than Clinton’s. And even so, I wouldn’t really care, as it’s still a pretty good plan, except that he’s decided to respond to the inadequacies of his own policy by fear-mongering against not only better policy, but the type of policy he’s probably going to have to eventually adopt. It’s very, very short-sighted.

UPDATE: Len Nichols, who is not a part of the Clinton campaign, said about Obama’s ad that “It is as outrageous as having Nazis march through Skokie, Ill. … I just find it disgusting that this kind of imagery is being used to attack the only way to get to universal coverage.” This quote is now being used by some, including those not even on the call, to raise the temperature on this debate. Howard Wolfson made a point of disassociating the campaign from this remark on the call.


Len Nichols and the New America Foundation’s Statement on the Democratic Health Care Reform Debate

(WASHINGTON, D.C.—February 1, 2008) – Len Nichols, Director of New America’s Health Policy Program, stated, “For nearly 17 years I have worked tirelessly to reform our nation’s struggling health system. Today my passion overwhelmed me. I chose an analogy that was wholly inappropriate. I am deeply sorry for any offense that my unfortunate comments may have caused. I made unfortunate comments that do not accurately reflect my bipartisan conviction, political philosophy, or most importantly, my opinions about Senator Obama and his historic campaign for the United States presidency.”

“While I have consulted with seven former and current presidential candidates, I am not affiliated nor a surrogate for the Clinton campaign, or any other campaign.”

“I wholeheartedly appreciate Senator Obama’s concern for Americans struggling to afford health insurance and I admire his amazing ability to inspire the nation. In fact, it is my own moral and religious convictions that lead me to believe that it is necessary for our country to guarantee quality, affordable health insurance for all Americans. My foremost priority is to advance the health reform debate by protecting a fact-based discussion.”

“The New America Foundation is a non-partisan think tank, that does not endorse or advise any campaign in an official capacity ” said Steve Coll, New America’s President and CEO. “Len’s decision to participate in the call and his comments on the mailer are regrettable. Len is passionate and committed to reforming health care in America, and I know that he sincerely regrets these unfortunate remarks.”