Bush Campaign Lies

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #29: Kerry Flip-Flopped On Health Coverage 

See 'Kerry flip-flops' item 21.

Here are the details:

  1. '[Kerry] said Kennedy and Clinton’s insistence on pushing health care reform was a major cause of the Democratic Party’s problems at the polls.' (Joe Battenfeld, “Jenny Craig Hit With Sex Harassment Complaint - By Men,” Boston Herald, 11/30/94)
  2. 'Sen. John Kerry says expanding coverage is "my passion."'(Susan Page, “Health Specifics Could Backfire On Candidates,” USA Today, 6/2/03)
There are many things wrong with using these quotes to conclude that Kerry flip-flopped. First and foremost, in statement (1), he's giving his opinion about running on health care as a campaign strategy, in (2) he's stating a personal belief about the importance of expanding coverage. For another, the 1994 Congressional campaign is not the 2004 Presidential campaign. Quickly now, is this a fair statement: "Al Gore received more votes than George Bush in 2000 because Bush spent too much time emphasizing tax cuts and not terrorism." In different election years, different issues are a priority.

And finally, one should note that Kerry disagreed with Clinton's health care plan, and not the issue of affordable health care per se. In an interview on Meet the Press, Tim Russert confronts Kerry with quote (1), which draws this response:

"On health care, I did not sign on to President Clinton's plan. I had a different approach. I thought we should have done something less complicated. We had a compromise which Bill Bradley, Senator Chafee, Senator Dole, a group were working on."
Research confirms that this isn't just spin; in 1994 Kerry really did specifically express doubts about Clinton's plan in a speech on the floor of the Senate (it's not possible to link directly to entries in the Congressional Record, otherwise I would). If he didn't think the plan was that great, it's no wonder he thought that it caused Democrats problems at the polls.

10:21 PM