Fact Check

Clinton Campaign Wants to Talk About Anything Other Her Coziness to Wall Street

False Attack Exposes Clinton Flip Flop to the Right on Universal Health Care; Highlights Clinton Campaign Cash From Pharmaceutical Industry

What this is REALLY all about:

During the CBS Democratic debate on Saturday, November 14, 2015, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to use the tragedy of 9/11 as a political excuse for her coziness with Wall Street interests, including the millions she has received in Wall Street campaign funding over her career. That defense of the Clinton campaign’s corporate fundraising has been widely assailed in the media and on social media. In an attempt to divert the public’s gaze from Wall Street coziness, the Clinton campaign has launched a false attack on universal health care – something she has previously supported. The Clinton campaign received more contributions from the pharmaceutical industry than any other – Republican or Democrat – through the first six months of the campaign. So, what is this false attack really all about: either Secretary Hillary Clinton is repudiating years of advocating for universal health or she’s playing politics with the health of America’s families.

What Sen. Sanders advocates:

Sen. Sanders advocates a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system that would provide health insurance to every American while care delivery would remain in the private sector. The result would be the elimination of private health insurance and the tremendous bureaucratic costs associated with it. It would eliminate all private health insurance premiums by consumers and businesses as well as copayments and deductibles. It would also allow for the negotiation of lower prices for pharmaceuticals and medical equipment and supplies. In 2013, Sen. Sanders introduced legislation to create such a system. This is the legislation that is being falsely attacked by the Clinton campaign, which is echoing a widely criticized story from the Wall Street Journal. Sen. Sanders has not put forward an updated proposal during this election cycle.

What’s the Truth About the Clinton Campaign False Attacks?

The truth is that a single-payer plan will save American families money and provide universal health care.

Under the legislation offered by Sen. Sanders in 2013, families with taxable income under $250,000 a year (individuals under $200,000) would pay a tax of 2.2 percent of taxable income.

That means a family with a taxable income of $100,000 a year would pay $2,200 a year – but would be relieved of paying any private health insurance premiums and any copayments or deductibles.

A family making $50,000 would pay $1,100 a year.

How can it be so inexpensive?

The first reason is that a Medicare for All plan provides universal coverage but LOWERS overall health spending by $5 trillion over a ten year period. That’s because the U.S. health insurance system is bureaucratic and inefficient leading to the U.S. having the highest per capita spending on health care of any country on earth. In addition, the chaotic private health insurance system makes it impossible to negotiate lower cost for prescription drugs and other medical-related items.

There are also other funding mechanisms in the legislation but they are not borne by families under $250,000 a year.

There is a payroll tax on EMPLOYERS of 6.7 percent. But, again, employers would be relieved of paying any private health insurance premiums or any self-insurance costs.

The Clinton campaign is falsely trying to impute this tax to middle class families. This is the same rationale used by Republicans to attack Social Security. Is that really the economics the Clinton campaign wants to embrace?

For families over $250,000 there are additional taxes.

Didn’t Sec. Clinton Support Universal Health Insurance?

“If you favor, as I know your editorial board does, a Medicare for all system then you have to figure out where you get the votes for that and what the transition would be, but it’s a really credible idea because Medicare has a really low administrative overhead percentage – especially compared to private insurance.” [Des Moines Register Editorial Board Meeting, 7/20/07]

“I want to have universal health care coverage by the end of my second term.” [AFSCME Presidential Candidates Forum, 2/21/07]

“Well, I’m thrilled that universal health care is back on the national agenda. You know, as we remember back in ’93 and ’94, we tried to come forward with a plan. We weren’t successful — I have the scars to show for that experience. But I am convinced that now, when the Democrats all are coming forward saying this has to be a national goal, we then can try to get the political will.” [NY Times, 06/03/07]

“We have to have a sense of national commitment that universal health care is an American value.” [CNN, 7/23/07]

“If you don’t start out trying to get universal health care, we know — and our members of Congress know — you’ll never get there. If a Democrat doesn’t stand for universal health care that includes every single American, you can see the consequences of what that will mean. I think it is imperative that we have plans, as both John and I do, that from the very beginning say, “You know what? Everybody has got to be covered.”

“We need a universal health care system where we manage chronic diseases, where we get prices down because we can bargain with the drug companies, where we say to the health insurance companies that they must cover everyone, they have to do it at an affordable rate.” [CNN, 1/21/08]

“That’s why, while we’re looking at getting to universal health care, we also have to give Medicare the right to negotiate with drug companies to get the price down, to begin to rein in those costs across the board.” [CNN, 1/31/08]

“If you do not have a plan that starts out attempting to achieve universal health care, you will be nibbled to death, and we will be back here, with more and more people uninsured and rising costs.” [NY Times, 2/21/08]

Why Is Sec. Clinton Abandoning Her Support for Universal Health Care?

It’s hard to understand how someone who claims to have been a supporter of universal health insurance for years is suddenly moving to the right and attacking universal health care. Or, maybe it’s not:

The Clinton campaign received far more money from the drug and medical device industries than any other presidential candidate in either party during the first six months of the campaign, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. She accepted $164,315 during that period.

At the same time, she has accepted significant contributions from individual donors. She received contributions, for example, from two executives at Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which raised the price of a drug used to treat sleep disorders by more than 800 percent, from roughly $2 to $19 a pill.

Each of the executives, chief executive Bruce Cozadd and Robert McKague, a senior vice president, contributed the maximum individual amount, $2,700.
[Boston Globe, 10/16/2015]

Of course, none of this really changes anything about coziness with Wall Street.

The truth still is:

Top Five Organizations of Hillary Clinton Donors — Lifetime (1999-Present)

*Data from the Center for Responsive Politics

What Experts Are Saying About a Medicare for All Program:

  1. Medicare for All would increase, not lower, incomes for 95 percent of Americans, according to Professor Gerald Friedman, Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  2. As Professor Friedman has written, if Medicare for All was enacted “we would, as a country, save nearly $5 trillion over ten years in reduced administrative waste, lower pharmaceutical and device prices, and by lowering the rate of medical inflation.”
  3. As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has written: “Bernie’s proposals would cost less than what we’d spend without them. Most of the “cost” … would pay for opening Medicare to everyone. This would be cheaper than relying on our current system of for-profit private health insurers that charge you and me huge administrative costs, advertising, marketing, bloated executive salaries, and high pharmaceutical prices.”
  4. Paul Waldman recently wrote in the Washington Post that “No, Bernie Sanders is not going to bankrupt America to the tune of $18 trillion.” Waldman writes: “Every single-payer system in the world, and there are many of them of varying flavors, is cheaper than the American health care system. Every single one. So whatever you might say about Sanders’ advocacy for a single-payer system, you can’t say it represents some kind of profligate, free-spending idea that would cost us all terrible amounts of money.”