Carter Blames Ted Kennedy For Delay In Passing Health Bill
A decades old grudge between former president Jimmy Carter and the late senator Edward Kennedy was renewed again Thursday when Carter criticized Kennedy's stand on the former president's health care proposal. CBS "60 Minutes" quotes Carter as saying "that Kennedy delayed comprehensive coverage for Americans for decades. ... It was Kennedy's actions to kill Carter's own health care bill that made Americans wait more than 30 years for meaningful coverage, says Carter in an interview with '60 Minutes' correspondent Lesley Stahl. ... In a diary he kept during his presidency, Carter vents about Kennedy's attacks and criticizes Kennedy's own health care bill" (9/16).
CNN: "'The fact is that we would have had comprehensive health care now, had it not been for Ted Kennedy's deliberately blocking the legislation that I proposed,' Carter told CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl. 'It was his fault. Ted Kennedy killed the bill.' Carter proposed health care reform in the late 1970s but was unable to sign any legislation. He said Kennedy blocked the bill in Congress out of spite in advance of the Massachusetts senator's unusual, and ultimately unsuccessful 1980 bid to unseat him. 'He did not want to see me have a major success in that realm of life,' Carter said" (Simon, 9/16).
Politico: "Carter gave the interview ahead of the release of his new book 'White House Diary,' a printing of selected passages from a diary he kept during his time as president. Carter also knocks Kennedy over his actions on health care in the book, according to CBS, writing: 'Kennedy continuing his irresponsible and abusive attitude, immediately condemning our health plan. He couldn't get five votes for his plan'" (Barr, 9/16).
The Associated Press: "Kennedy and Carter had competing health care reform plans while Carter was president. Kennedy favored a more comprehensive approach that would have insured all Americans against health care costs regardless of age or income. Carter backed a more moderate proposal that would have been phased in over several years. In his 2009 memoir, 'True Compass,' Kennedy blamed Carter for dragging his feet on health care and wrote that Carter viewed his health care efforts as a platform to challenge his presidency. 'If that's why he slowed things down, then he made a poor political calculation,' Kennedy wrote. 'If we had passed comprehensive national health insurance together, it would have been a huge victory for Carter.' When asked in interviews about his biggest regret as a senator, Kennedy often recalled his failure to make a deal to pass President Richard Nixon's sweeping health care proposal in the early 1970s. Kennedy said that at the time he did not think it went far enough" (Miga, 9/16).
The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: "Kennedy, one of the leading advocates for this year's health care bill, died of a brain tumor before the sweeping overhaul was enacted in March. As he signed the bill, President Barack Obama honored Kennedy by wearing a blue 'TedStrong' wristband. The new law, with a big price tag and requirement that most people must have insurance coverage, has now become an issue in the midterm elections" (Carnevale, 9/16).
Boston Globe: "Edward M. Kennedy may have died of brain cancer last year, but that has not softened Jimmy Carter's assessment of his rival for the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination" (Rowland, 9/17).
Related KHN stories:
A Timeline of Kennedy's Health Care Achievements And Disappointments (Evans and Schiff, 8/26/2009)email subscription.