Taking as an example the Clinton health care reform initiative, the authors show how a policy that aimed to please everyone ended by satisfying no one due to pressure groups, political gamesmanship and the inertia of the American 'system'.
A remarkable feat of investigative reporting, this is probably the fullest account to date of the behind-the-scenes political battles surrounding President Clinton's failed health insurance initiative. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington reporters Johnson (Sleepwalking Through History) and Broder (Changing of the Guard) believe that Clinton made a major mistake in creating a special White House health-care task force headed by his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and business consultant Ira Magaziner. The First Lady's presence stifled the free expression of ideas by cabinet members and White House aides, and the president overlooked Magaziner's track record of overly complicated, failed public-policy proposals, the authors charge. Furthermore, the Clinton plan had fatal vulnerabilities, notably the absence of a few simple structural principles that could be readily grasped by the public. The authors expose the full extent of the massive lobbying campaign by the plan's opponents, among them conservative Republicans, insurance companies, health-care providers and the Christian Coalition. This probe into the failure to provide affordable, universal health coverage brilliantly illuminates why so many people believe that the government no longer represents them. Author tour. (May)