Here’s an extended rundown on former President Clinton’s speech to the state Democratic Party’s Jackson Day Dinner Saturday night, with thanks to Rick Locker
Clinton recalled his first speech to a Jackson Day gathering, in 1991, when he was governor of Arkansas.
“The only reason I got to speak is that Jay Rockefeller the scheduled speaker, choked on a chicken bone and had to go to the hospital.”
Clinton said three things determine the outcome of national elections: the culture of the country, the conditions at the time and the quality of the candidates.
He said Republicans won most elections for the White House from 1968 to 1992 (except for Carter after Watergate) because they had a base of about 45 percent of the voters and “we had a base of about 40 percent, so that meant we had to get 2 out of 3 independents to win.”
“In 2008, the cultural balance was in our favor. The conditions were terrible for them (Republicans), and we had a better candidate in Barak Obama. So we won.
“However it is important to remember something. When we win, people vote for us because they expect us to stand and deliver.
“You know, the Republicans don’t really know what to do. That’s why you’ve got all these screaming matches at these town hall meetings.
“They’re just sitting around hoping the president will fail. They’re sitting around hoping they can spook the Congress. And unlike when I was president trying to do health, they don’t have a jaw buster in the Senate any more so their only shot at killing health care reform one more time is to scare the living daylights out of everyone.
“Let me tell you something, in March April and may of last year, I was in 300 separate towns when I was trying to help Hillary. I never had the first person come up to me saying I don’t want the government messing with my Medicare. Or you’re rationing care.
He then told several stories of people he met in some of the visits on the campaign trail with Hillary last year and their trouble affording health care.
Then he said, “Don’t you let anybody tell you President Obama wants to ration health care. We are rationing health care in America.”
He said health care reform is hard for four reasons:
“First, it’s complicated. …Anything complicated can be misrepresented, by definition.
Number two, it’s personal. It’s personal to all of us. Everyone of us has a story. Anything personal can be used to inspire fear.
Number three, the difference between the 16½ percent of income that we spend on health care and the 10½ percent people in other advanced nations spend — $800 to 900 billion – is going somewhere. The somewhere doesn’t want to give it up.
And number four was described better than I could way back in the 15th century by Niccolo Machiavelli who said, “There is nothing so difficult in all of human affairs than to change the established order, because those who will lose are certain of their loss while those who will gain are uncertain of their benefits.”
“I don’t think all these people are coming to these town meetings raising cane with your congressman in bad faith. I think they’ve had the daylights scared out of them. And I get it. But lets just start with a few basic facts I want you to share with your friends and neighbors.
“First of all, we pay 16 and a half percent of our income on health care and nobody else pays more than 10 and a half. That’s between $800 and $900 billion a year we’re paying that we would not pay if we had any other country’s health system, including Germany and Switzerland which don’t have publicly funded health care in the way that we’re being accused of.
“Second, so we’re paying more – 800 or 900 billion that could be going into education and jobs and clean energy and covering the uninsured.
“We only cover 84 percent of our people and everybody else covers 100 percent. That’s one reason we spend too much — because the people who don’t have health coverage when they’re too sick, they show up at the most expensive place they can, the emergency room, and you pay for it in your health premiums.
“And third in the last evaluation in the overall quality of health care in advanced countries, we ranked 35th. We do very well in some things: in the early diagnosis of cancer and if you need a heart bypass like I did, we’re really good at that.