Great piece by Ryan Cooper at the Washington Monthly on Herman Cain’s role in defeating the Clinton health care plan.
In a surprising swing in the Republican presidential field, Herman Cain has rocketed to second place, just behind Mitt Romney. Like all the other candidates, he has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and even claimed (falsely) that he would have died from his liver cancer under Obamacare. Cain actually got his start in politics helping to defeat the 90’s health care reform plan. Organizations from several different areas attacked the Clinton effort, but some of the most effective opposition came from small business organizations, led by the National Restaurant Association and the National Federation of Independent Business. That effort to kill health care reform, coupled with the total failure of the right to pass (or even seriously propose) their own plans, ultimately hurt small businesses.
Cain is a lot clearer about what he is against that what he is for. He opposed the Clinton reform, Ted Kennedy’s Patient Bill of Rights of the late 90’s, Canada-style healthcare, and SCHIP (the children’s health insurance program). He opposed both the Medicare prescription drug benefit and the House proposal to allow negotiation with drug companies in order to control the program’s increasing costs. And, of course, he opposed the Affordable Care Act.
I live and work in a rural county in Ohio where lots and lots of low-wage and part-time working parents rely on S-CHIP to cover their children. The program is wildly popular. I would like Herman Cain to address his opposition to the state childrens health insurance plan, given that his entire claim to fame is that he ran a pizza chain, which is a low wage service sector employer.
Herman Cain, when he got cancer, could call up T. Boone Pickens to get him into a top-notch facility in Houston. But his efforts to defeat reform, in the end, did no such favors for small businesses or their employees, who were increasingly left twisting in the wind.
Health care for me, but not for thee, and not for the children of my low-wage employees, either. Cain was wrong about the Clinton plan, he’s wrong about the ACA, but he was also wrong about S-CHIP. The difference between S-CHIP and the Clinton plan and the Obama law is that we know S-CHIP is a great program that millions of children currently rely on. S-CHIP works. Parents love it. Covering millions of children was the right thing to do. In fact, the one and only reason we were able to pass and then expand S-CHIP over conservative opposition, including last-ditch vetoes by former President Bush, is because the public knew it was the right thing to do.
Herman Cain should have to address the parents of the millions of children covered under S-CHIP and explain why he opposed providing basic health care to their children, and whether he regrets that.