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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


From the archives: back issues show Clinton-era health care debate mirrors our own

During his visit to Tucson October 31, 1994, Vice President Al Gore fires up a crowd of supporters at a Democratic candidate rally at the Tucson Convention Center. The rally was held in support of senate candidate Sam Coppersmith (shown left of the president).

It’s late September and a young Democratic president is battling for health care reform.

President Barack Obama made the Sunday talk show rounds this weekend to defend his health care overhaul. But for the Arizona Daily Wildcat, it’s déjà vu all over again.

As then-President Bill Clinton revealed his health care reform plan to Congress, the headline in the Sept. 23, 1993, issue of the Wildcat declared, “”UA reaction is optimistic despite complex issues.””

But some faculty members were more optimistic than others.

Echoing contemporary complaints, Deborah Mathieu, a UA political science professor, told the Wildcat that Clinton’s plan was too watered down.

“”(Clinton) has already compromised on several of the most important issues, including whether or not we will go to a single-payer scheme,”” Mathieu said. “”The plan will be further watered down in Congress.””

Mathieu also expressed concern with the plan’s price tag.

“”I can’t imagine his coming up with the billions of dollars it is going to cost,”” she said.

A week later, the Wildcat published a story by The Associated Press showing mixed reaction to the plan. An AP poll showed four in 10 Americans thought the health care plan would end up costing their families more in the long run.

As the battle over reform raged in Congress over much of the next year, the subject of health care found itself popping in and out of the Wildcat’s opinions pages.

A strongly worded guest column by Dylan Otto Krider, printed Aug. 26, 1994, declared, “”In the next few weeks you will see Republicans, insurance companies and businesses digging up all the provisions they oppose in health care reform, but few will actually embarrass themselves by actually supporting something.””

Krider issued a strong call for reform, but the curious tagline at the end of his commentary may have been counterproductive.

“”Dylan Otto Krider has absolutely no qualifications to hold any opinion whatsoever. Send e-mail to: (address withheld),”” the column said.

In the same issue, an article from The Associated Press declared, “”Democrats say health care not dead, just on hold.””

There is “”nothing more important, nothing more urgent,”” than health care reform, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said in the same report.

Not all UA students were thrilled about health care reform. 

In a guest column printed Sept. 13, 1994, mechanical engineering sophomore Brad Williams lashed out at Democrats using the catchphrase, “”Change.””

“”Throughout the health care reform argument, the Clintons have used the word ‘change.’ It seems every time one of them opens their mouth, ‘change’ comes out,'”” Williams wrote. “”We’ve all been tricked into believing we need change at all cost. Change can be good, but no change is better than bad change.””

Two days later, those looking for a distraction from the acrimonious health care debate suffered a major setback — the Wildcat reported the first-ever cancellation of baseball’s World Series due to a players’ strike.

By the end of the month, congressional leaders had announced health care reform as dead, and the president’s slipping approval ratings portended bleak midterm election for Democrats.

The Nov. 1, 1994, issue of the Wildcat reported that Vice President Al Gore literally hobbled into the Tucson Convention Center on crutches to drum up support for Democratic candidates.

“”Gore began his speech with a barrage of jokes, commenting that he tore his Achilles’ tendon recently while he was ‘impersonating a UA Wildcat’ on the basketball court,”” wrote reporter Amanda Hunt.

The Wildcat endorsed supermarket owner Eddie Basha for governor and Sam Coppersmith for senator, both Democrats, but both were defeated in the Republican landslide of 1994.

At least one letter writer trumpeted what came to be known as the Republican Revolution of 1994.

“”Hoo-ray!!”” wrote Book D. Wood, a biology junior. “”If the tidal wave of conservatism witnessed today is not a ‘mandate from the masses’ (a phrase commonly used by liberals) then I don’t know what is. Clinton is now, for all intents and purposes, a lame-duck president only two years into his term.””

Wood went on to predict the election of Dan Quayle in 1996.

Where will this September lead us? It’s too soon to tell.

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