Obama Taps Clinton Ideas but Not Clinton Herself
Hillary Rodham Clinton has not participated in any of the White House’s planning sessions on health care, the issue that defined her public persona during the 1990s. Intent on establishing herself as a powerful secretary of state, she has steered clear of public statements on the topic and has not discussed it in any detail with President Obama.
Mrs. Clinton’s distance from the health care initiative, figuratively and literally — she will be in Brussels on Thursday when Mr. Obama begins his effort to overhaul the system with a high-profile gathering of experts — underscores how the Obama White House is grappling with the cloud that still lingers over the Clinton plan 15 years after it imploded.
Once the stimulus bill was enacted, Mr. Obama moved quickly to include money for health care changes in his budget, something Mr. Clinton did not do because his economic advisers wanted to focus on deficit reduction first, said Chris Jennings, who was Mr. Clinton’s senior health policy adviser. “That’s really key,&. dquo; Mr. Jennings said. The delay, he said, “probably was the reason why we were unable to sustain interest and support.”
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG