Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Clinton Maps Strategy to Pass Health Reforms

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Clinton Maps Strategy to Pass Health Reforms

Article excerpt

Hearst Newspapers

WASHINGTON _ The White House is designing a campaign-style strategy to push health care reform through the election-year Congress, relying on many of the tactics that won the presidency for Bill Clinton.

Outlines of the game plan are emerging as the president steps up his drive to win congressional passage of a compromise plan later this year.

The strategy includes stirring public demands for reform, proclaiming a single, easily understood principle while compromising on details, lowering the profile of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and seeking to drive a political wedge between the plan's opponents.

Jeff Eller, a White House official, said both the president and the first lady will devote a "significant" amount of time during the next six weeks discussing health care.

Clinton will use his bully pulpit to press for universal coverage and passage of a comprehensive package; Hillary will devote herself to discussing details of the plan, Eller said.

"The financing and structure may look different than it does now," Eller said. "But as long as we get to universal coverage, we don't care."

How will Clinton achieve his goal? Aides outline these elements: Stirring demands for action: The president devoted his State of the Union address to stoking public demands for change. He hit hot-button issues designed to ignite a public outcry, urging lawmakers to show "courage" by standing up to special interests, and citing the lavish health coverage enjoyed by lawmakers. Standing on a principle: The president spotlighted his lone non-negotiable requirement by theatrically waving his pen before Congress to underscore his threat to veto any legislation that fails to guarantee universal coverage.

Still, Clinton had barely put the pen away before senior administration officials were signaling a willingness to compromise on details. …

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