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TPM Pays Tribute to the Boss's Prescience

2:46 PM, Sep 24, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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TPM editor Josh Marshall pays tribute to the boss's prescience by re-publishing a twenty-year-old health care memo:

It's such a critical document that I wanted to republish in full the 1993 Kristol memo on defeating health care reform. (Here's how it looked at the time on letterhead.) Both for now and for future reference. It's the primary document I referenced in the post below on why Republicans are fighting so hard on Obamacare. 
Full text after the jump.

William Kristol: Defeating President Clinton's Health Care Proposal

Project for a Republican Future

December 2, 1993

SUBJECT: Defeating President Clinton's Health Care Proposal

What follows is the first in what will be a series of political strategy memos prepared by The Project for the Republican Future. The topic of this memo is President Clinton's health care reform proposal, the single most ambitious item on the Administration's domestic policy agenda.

These four pages are an attempt to describe a common political strategy for Republicans in response to the Clinton health care plan. By examining the president's own strategy and tactics, this memo suggests how Republicans might reframe the current health care debate, offer a serious alternative, and, in the process, defeat the president's plan outright.

Nothing in these pages is intended to supplant the many thoughtful analyses of the Clinton health are plan already produced by Republicans and others, analyses which have done much to expose both its glaring weaknesses and immediate dangers. In fact, this memo borrows heavily from articles and papers prepared by conservative public policy think tanks, the Republican National Committee, House and Senate Republicans, and the dozens of superb critiques that have appeared in newspapers and magazines. Nor is this an attempt to prescribe legislative tactics for defeating the Clinton bill; for that we defer to our Republican leaders in the Congress. Instead, it is an effort to assess the current political climate surrounding the health care debate and to provide a winning Republican strategy that will serve the best interests of the country.

The Project for the Republican Future was founded last month to help shape a Republican vision and advance an agenda for governing. It seeks to frame a new Republicanism by challenging not just the particulars of big-government policies, but their very premises and purposes. In the coming months, we will prepare and circulate other memos on critical issues of politics and policy. We welcome your reactions to this memo so that we can further refine a Republican strategy, and we encourage your thoughts on future subjects for consideration.


Just after President Clinton introduced his health care plan in September, opinion polling reflected strong public support for it. That support has now sharply eroded. A late September Washington Post/ABC News poll, for example, had national respondents approving the plan by a 56 to 24 percent margin; the same poll in October had approval down to a 51 to 39 percent margin; and a mid-November Post/ABC poll now shows bare plurality support for the plan of 46 to 43 percent.

To some extent, these results follow a predictable pattern of Clinton Administration policy initiatives, which have tended to open well on the strength of the president's personal advocacy, and then to falter as revealed details make plain his attachment to traditional, big government, tax-and-spend liberalism. Faced with forceful objections in the past, the Administration has generally preferred to bargain and compromise with Congress so as to achieve any victory it can. But health care is not, in fact, just another Clinton domestic policy. And the conventional political strategies Republicans have used in the past are inadequate to the task of defeating the Clinton plan outright. That must be our goal.

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