A New Tack On Health Care

Any chance for healthcare reform this year seems to rest in the Senate, where Majority Leader George Mitchell is trying to salvage a last-minute deal -- with some hope of success. Even if the Senate approves modest reform, passage in the House is no sure thing. Incremental reform may be rejected by some of the roughly 100 Democrats who still support the liberal Canadian-style single-payer plan. And the White House needs the liberals because Clinton can't count on any Republican support in the House. Clinton aides worry that in the end the House will choose to pass nothing rather than small reform, denying the president even the semblance of victory. If health care does fail completely, count on Clinton to spend the fall making a big push for reform of the political system. Clinton has long supported measures to limit campaign spending by interest groups and require more complete disclosure of lobbying activities. So far, though, the president has not devoted much energy to pushing them through a reluctant Congress. One Clinton aide says there is "congealing sentiment" in the White House for making lobbying and campaign-financing reforms a top priority. The message: special interests killed health care, so we should weaken special interests.