At a Clinton Global Initiative panel discussion on women’s health, Hillary Clinton momentarily turned the conversation to Washington politics when she offered a full-throated defense of the Affordable Care Act and laid into a “noisy minority” of Republicans threatening to shutdown the government over the bill.
Clinton’s riff on the current affairs of the capital, where House Republicans are attempting to defund President Obama’s landmark health care bill, marked a notably partisan moment for the former secretary of state. Clinton has kept quite this year on much of what happens inside the Beltway.
“I find the debate over this issue to be quite unfortunate,” Clinton said Tuesday, on a panel moderated by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta about women’s health. “A law was passed. It was upheld by the Supreme Court. It is the law of the land.”
To affect a contrast with what she described as today’s “noisy minority” of House Republicans, Clinton cited past health care bills, specifically George W. Bush’s Medicare Part D benefit, which also presented implementation challenges but was met with less opposition by lawmakers on the right. “You didn’t have obstructionist members of Congress once the vote was taken,” said Clinton.
Clinton, a possible presidential candidate in 2016, did acknowledge that Democrats could stand to benefit from Republican threats in Washington to shutdown the government over funding for the bill. “It wouldn’t be the worst thing for Democrats if they tried to shut the government down,” she said. “We’ve seen that movie before. It didn’t work out too well.”
“If they want to try to shut the government down,” Clinton added, “that’s on their head — that’s their responsibility.”
But Clinton said that if Republicans “go even further” by refusing to raise the debt ceiling over the issue, sending the country into default, “that is not just partisan politics, that is going to the heart of our credibility around the world,” she said. “I hope that smarter, cooler heads prevail and that we deal with our budget and we deal with our debt limit.”
Clinton, calling Obama’s health care reform a “significant step forward,” did acknowledge the bill wasn’t infallible. “Nobody is saying it’s a perfect bill. I served in the senate for eight years — there is no such thing as a perfect bill.”
She also gestured toward the public messaging problems the Obama administration has faced with the measure, stressing that while people may “agree with the specifics” of health care reform, “they have been in effect convinced the overall program is not to their liking.
“We’re in this sort of bipolar political world,” Clinton said.