The Clinton White House used the Democratic National Committee and government agencies to target and lobby a list of “on the fence” Democrats and Republicans to build support for its failed 1993 health care legislation, according to files made public for the first time Friday.
The memos show that the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House intergovernmental affairs office and the DNC worked together to pressure lawmakers.
"The targeting effort is now well under way. Several weeks ago, in consultation with HHS, the DNC, Intergovernmental Affairs and other task for members, we compiled a list of possible Republican senators and vulnerable Democrats," White House aides Steve Ricchetti and Chris Jennings, both of whom later worked in the Obama White House, wrote in an April, 1993 memo to an unspecified distribution list.
The revelation of coordination among the White House, HHS, and the Democratic Party’s national political arm, is just a slice of a trove of strategy documents outlining just how President Bill Clinton and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton pursued an expansion of health insurance in vain.
Roughly 4,000 pages of previously-secret documents from the Clinton administration were made public today by the Clinton Presidential Library. The new files show how the Clinton White House merged government and political data in the drive for a healthcare plan that was doomed to fail.
"We are in the process of developing a detailed House list as well," Ricchetti and Jennings wrote. "We have begun a file on every member. The files, which can be cross-tabulated, include a wide array of information on the members," they said. "Added to these files will be information and research being obtained by the DNC and Intergovernmental Affairs."
An unattributed draft strategy memo shows fears White House officials had in the early days of the health care overhaul push.
"There is great concern that CBO is going to screw us on savings, etc.," the anonymous author wrote, referring to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Then-Speaker Tom Foley's poor relationships with fellow Democrats were considered to be a problem, as were the politics of abortion in the House and Senate, particularly on the House Rules Committee.
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