The Clintons’ Cheap Shot at Sanders

Seeing the polls tighten, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has gone on the attack against Sen. Bernie Sanders over his support for Medicare for all, accusing him of seeking to destroy Obamacare (though he voted for it). It’s a deceptive assault, say Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

The Clinton campaign just made a serious mistake. They sent Hillary and Bill Clinton’s daughter Chelsea out on behalf of her mother to bash Sen. Bernie Sanders on the issue of health care.

What’s so wrong with that? Don’t all candidates use family surrogates when and where they can? The Kennedys, for example, deployed a horde of kinfolk for Jack’s campaign for president, then Bobby’s, then Teddy’s.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

But when it’s the first time (as this was for Clinton the younger), the surrogate should be sure whereof she speaks, and had better stick to talking about her candidate, not the opponent. Unfortunately, Chelsea Clinton misrepresented Sen. Sanders’s position, and her premiere performance on the stump backfired, producing a flood of political donations to Sanders.

Here’s what she said: “Senator Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the [Children’s Health Insurance Program], dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance.” Whew! She would have us believe that the Vermont senator is a one-man wrecking crew, an enraged King Kong or, to be modern about it, a mendacious Darth Vader proposing “to go back to an era before we had the Affordable Care Act that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.”

Uh, not exactly. In fact, not even close. As Karen Tumulty noted in The Washington Post, Bernie Sanders has long been a champion of a single-payer health care system as the only way to assure that all Americans receive medical coverage. Rather than “strip” millions and millions of people of their health insurance, he wants to be sure millions and millions of people actually get health insurance.

This was Sanders’s position as far back as 1993 when newly-elected President Bill Clinton put First Lady Hillary Clinton in charge of reforming our disheveled and unjust health care system. Her task force huffed and puffed in secret for months, calling in legions of experts and academics, ultimately producing a plan so complicated and impenetrable not to mention unexplainable that it would have collapsed of its own ponderous weight even if the Republicans had not propagandized it into a laughingstock of pretensions and inefficiencies that could only make matters worse.

And here’s an ironic note: During that 1993 quest for a health care plan, Secretary Clinton sent Sanders an autographed picture of the two of them, wishing him the best and thanking the senator “for your commitment to real health care access for all Americans.”

All these years later, Sanders is still fighting the battle for single-payer, Medicare-like coverage for all, even as fellow Democrats capitulated to the siren songs of the health and insurance industries. President Obama, himself a one-time advocate of single-payer coverage, buckled to the insurance companies and its lobbyists and minions in Congress and agreed to health care legislation (the Affordable Care Act) that would continue to treat healing the sick as a profit center instead of a basic human right.

And look at former presidential candidate and single-payer advocate Howard Dean, Bernie’s fellow Vermonter, who went on MSNBC this week and said that the Sanders plan “would in fact undo people’s health care That is something people should be concerned about.”

Why the change of heart? Maybe because Dean “now serves as senior advisor to the law firm Dentons, where he works with the firm’s Public Policy and Regulation practice, a euphemism for Dentons’ lobbying team,” Lee Fang reports at The Intercept. “The Dentons Public Policy and Regulation practice lobbies on behalf of a variety of corporate health care interests, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America [PhRMA], a powerful trade group for drugmakers like Pfizer and Merck.”

Fang notes that, “Incumbent health care interests, particularly drug companies and insurers, have long viewed single-payer as a threat to their business model,” and points to documents that we uncovered in 2009 on Bill Moyers Journal with the help of former health insurance executive, now whistleblower Wendell Potter. They showed a systematic plan by health insurers to discredit single-payer.

As president of the Clinton Foundation, the richly endowed philanthropy that has become the family’s private station for public causes, Chelsea Clinton must know this. The cynic might think the more than $2.6 million given so far by the health industry to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and outside groups supporting her (three times that of any other candidate, Democrat or Republican) might be leading Chelsea Clinton to use the same kind of false accusations so long used against her parents.

But why would any of the family, their campaign team, advisors and supporters assume that the public would accept such a wild and irresponsible distortion?

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and Michael Winship is the senior writer of Moyers & Company and, Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship. [This story originally appeared at]


18 comments for “The Clintons’ Cheap Shot at Sanders

  1. Akech
    January 19, 2016 at 12:30

    I am opposed to the slaughter and displacement of citizens of any country, regardless of who is pulling the trigger!

    Poor Africans and the Middle Eastern citizens who are dying or running for their lives, or drowning in the Mediterranean Sea have little or no knowledge why they are targeted for slaughter.

    Greed, and desire to control the masses and resources of the world by a small minority of elites on planet earth ganging together are responsible for the onslaught.

    Hillary Clinton and the forces behind her would like us to think that she is for average guy/girl. She is not, particularly, on health care. During the last debate two days ago in South Carolina, she wrapped herself around OBAMACARE which is financially squeezing the an average working American family like a python!. She is 100% in favor of the insurance company who wrote the OBAMACARE.
    While I do not know much about Sanders foreign ventures, he is not all over the map about his vision on healthcare! This does not mean ENDORSEMENT to Sanders!

    In any case, the DNC seems to be under the total control of Bill Clinton and his foundation. I do not see how this control benefits those uninformed voters who are grossly being misled by the Clinton machine!

  2. Artemis Rose
    January 16, 2016 at 23:13

    Brilliant article by two of our best independent journalist who are NOT beholding to any media corporation!!!

    Yes, I, too, was outraged when I listened to Chelsea Clinton lie, lie, lie!
    Like Mother, like daughter!

    Chelsea’s lies was my catalyst for donating $100 to Bernie’s campaign!
    Thanks Chelsea, your lies is precisely what Americans need to know about you three Clintons!
    Liars, liars, liars all of you!

  3. Abbybwood
    January 16, 2016 at 21:51

    “Mouseland” by Tommy Douglas:

  4. David Smith
    January 16, 2016 at 14:40

    Greetings from Canada. Our Single Payer, National ( but administered at Provincial level) Universal Health Insurance works beautifully, excellent in all respects, at half the price per capita of U.S. system. Our American friends are really missing out. Do not believe the negative things in U.S. media about the Canadian system, it is all lies. Even Canadian conservatives use and support without reservation our single payer system.

    • David Smith
      January 16, 2016 at 14:55

      I neglected to add, we pay zero premiums, our national health insurance is entirely funded through the tax system. This is a refinement, as 25 years ago we paid small premiums. If Canada can do it, so can the USA, and at half the price per capita of our system, due to economies of scale.

  5. elmerfudzie
    January 16, 2016 at 14:11

    What tripe, what blabber! from this creature, Clinton. When I put Hilary, side-by side with a “for real” political leader such as The Canadian Action Party representative, Connie Fogal, Well Clinton’s enough to make me nauseated and disgusted. Instead of outlining her opposition to a tri-national political entity (USA-Canada-Mexico), opposing the Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement, opposing the North American Union, we get this sort of political tripe! Why isn’t she talking about real issues like opposing the NAFTA superhighway? and in so doing, preserving unionized jobs all along Coastal California’s deep water ports? Why hasn’t she aligned herself with those sixteen states that created resolutions within their house(s) and senate(s) with resolutions opposing any North American Union? Will the real, electable,first female, presidential hopeful PLEASE stand forward!

    • elmerfudzie
      January 16, 2016 at 14:49

      oops! my error, last sentence should say, PLEASE come forward…not please stand forward

    • Brad Owen
      January 17, 2016 at 08:13

      Hi Elmer. I think the key to why Ms. Clinton is acting the way she does, can be traced back to her horrifying epiphany she had, when in the W.House as First Lady. She SAW the workings of “A vast Right-Wing conspiracy” (Synarchy Internationale, getting started since the end of the Napoleonic era at around the Paris Commune time, 1840’s). They got their game together by the turn of the century (19th-to-20th), hosting SME (Synarchy Movement Empire) meetings in the 1920’s giving birth to the Fascist/NAZI Movement (it is international, just like the Communist Movement was). It has carried on through Tavistock/Chatham House/CFR/Trilateralists/Bilderberger/Mt. Peleren/Davos activities to make a global, neo-feudal/proto-fascist Empire. Ms. Clinton caught intimations of that in the nineties, eventually deciding to go WITH this “prevailing wind” rather than fight it. She sees what happens to all the “Pro-FDR” pols and candidates. Benedict Arnold probably came to the same decision; can’t beat Empire, might as well make the best deal with it as possible. Anyway that would be my guess as to why Ms. Clinton is the way she is. North America is just a regional “Administrative Unit” in the Synarchist Empire of Feudal Estates entrusted to the governance of loyal “Feudal Lords and Ladies”and their Trustees. No room for USA/Canada/Mexico as Nation-States with Congresses and Parliaments and such. Nobody’s that interested in voting and citizenship anyway.

      • elmerfudzie
        January 17, 2016 at 17:25

        Brad Owen, I still hold Hilary Clinton personally responsible for the mysterious death of Vince Foster, one of her many subordinate employees and attorney aids. She can’t wait to fill her husbands shoes, in particular where CFR, CIA promises and commitments are concerned. I’m afraid to admit it; Bernie is a poor second choice, he too is joined at the hip to the US war machine economy, committed to Saudi money and it’s influences but there you have it-this is all our citizenry at large have to work with, AT THE MOMENT- that is.

  6. rosemerry
    January 15, 2016 at 19:08

    The insurance companies make such huge profits and the result is nothing to be proud of (USA health). It is interesting that here in France, often regarded as having an excellent system, 92% of the population also have “complementary” insurance (private or “mutuelle”) and the insurance companies seem to make a profit from this extra payment. Perhaps they are less greedy.

  7. Shirley Ferrell Smith
    January 15, 2016 at 18:45

    It sounds like the Clinton’s daughter is taking after her mother. Talking about stuff she knows nothing about, or finds lying easier than the truth. The Clintons havve had their day, I say, go away, retire please.

  8. alexander
    January 15, 2016 at 18:11

    Dear Mr Moyers,

    Nothing could be more fitting than the old expression “the road to hell is paved with good intentions, when describing what our President ended up compromising to get Obamacare passed into law.

    Every American, under the new law is not forced to pay for their own medical care, they are “forced” to pay by law, a “private company to insure them”.

    Is the private company that insures us turning a profit ? if so, how much profit ? Is there any part of the law under Obamacare that restricts the amount of profit a private insurer can make ?

    We are forced by the law to pay for it, but have “no” say in how much the private insurers can gouge us ?

    The failure of Obamacare is its a form of “taxation without representation”. We are mandated to pay a middleman for the service of insuring us,without knowing how much that middleman is making ?

    If Obamacare is a tax, which it is, how much are the insurers profiting from it ?
    and how much profit is fair…..and how much profit is too much?

    Every American, if there are forced to insure, should have a right to know that.


    • Zachary Smith
      January 15, 2016 at 18:47

      Nothing could be more fitting than the old expression “the road to hell is paved with good intentions, when describing what our President ended up compromising to get Obamacare passed into law.

      In my opinion you give Obama way too much credit for “good intentions”. I believe he was lying from the outset.

      Here’s what she said: “Senator Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the [Children’s Health Insurance Program], dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance.”

      I could only shake my head when I first read that in the news. Either First Daughter Chelsea is dumber than a post, or she’s as dishonest as her parents.

      Sanders has a lot of problems as a candidate, but the Clintons attacking him on his strongest point is a genuine Karl Rove maneuver. Paraphrasing Judge Roy Bean, Sanders is as high above Clinton on this issue as heaven is of hell.

    • akech
      January 16, 2016 at 22:45

      Some young people earning minimum wages and unable to buy private health insurance are now being severely fined by the IRS for not buying the private insurance coverage. These youths pay IRS fines despite the fact they have no health coverage.

      Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton are hell-bent on going back to the White House by hook or crook! There must be reasons why they have a burning desire to go back there. But, it is not to help the unformed voters they are trying to deceive!

      Barack Obama, with a very wide smile, turned against many emotionally charged voters who thought he would halt the mass killing of innocent citizens in the Middle East. Instead, the war has been expanded to Africa where innocent and very poor Africans are now being killed under the watchful eyes of the US AFRICOM!

  9. Brad Owen
    January 15, 2016 at 17:19

    I remember when First Lady Clinton spoke of “a vast, Right-Wing conspiracy” ( the various national Deep State instrumentalities of the Synarchy Internationale); seems like she finally joined ’em. I remember when Prez. Clinton spoke of the need for a “new financial architecture”, thus prefiguring BRICS; then the impeachment lunacy/character assassination project began, and Prez. Clinton folded on welfare and Glass-Steagal, abandoning FDR and the New Deal for The People’s General Welfare. The People have lost more battles than won, against the Synarchy Internationale.

  10. J'hon Doe II
    January 15, 2016 at 17:00

    The photo of Ms Clinton speaks loudly of a defiant/arrogant individual like a Queen Victoria or Margret Thatcher.

    Hillary vs. Donald — “there’s not a dimes worth of difference”

Comments are closed.