Hillary Is the Candidate for Change (-ing History)

More than once, including in this snippy exchange from this weekend's debate, Hillary Clinton has claimed credit for the Children's Health Insurance Program (a.k.a., SCHIP- the "S," by the way, stands for "Senate"). I always kind of thought in the back of my mind that it was a pretty obviously easily-disprovable claim, and, hey, I was right!

In the debate this weekend, while trying to slap down claims from the other candidates that they are for "change," Hillary said, "I helped to create the Children's Health Insurance Program." That program, by the way, was created in 1997, or 3.5 years before she ever took office. At the time, she was first lady, Bill was President, and Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were spearheading the efforts to enact a children's health insurance program bill that was written by Kennedy. As First Lady, she really didn't have a legislative affairs office, and she was (as most people might recall) considered basically radioactive on the Hill and especially on health insurance issues. After Hatch joined Kennedy, the Children's Defense Fund recruited supporters to the effort, including First Lady Hillary Clinton who, in the words of the Times, "played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in lining up White House support" but didn't manage to get Bill to commit to the program until July 23, 1997 -- almost a year after Kennedy announced he was doing it.

Does that mean she didn't help? No, I'm sure she helped. Did she originate the bill, help write it, push it through the Senate, jump on it from the get-go? Apparently not. Should she maybe stop acting like she did in an effort to prove she's a candidate for change? That would be cool, but also unlikely.

Hatch Joins Kennedy to Back a Health Program [NY Times]

Through Senate Alchemy, Tobacco Is Turned Into Gold for Children's Health [NY Times]


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