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tv   Health Care Reform 1994 End  CSPAN  April 2, 2017 9:15am-9:56am EDT

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writings on war, weapons and government secrets and will discuss her four books, " area 51," "the pentagon's brain," and " phenomena." join our live three hour conversations live today at noon eastern on in depth on c-span 2. 1994, george mitchell announced the end of efforts to pass a health care bill that year. press conference followed a year and a half long effort by the clinton administration and members of congress. up next on american is your tv, senator mitchell's press conference followed by reaction from republican leader robert dold. e. it is about an hour. sen. mitchell: at the beginning of this congress, i said the
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passage of comprehensive health care reform would be a high priority. i repeated that goal at the beginning of this year and sai d i would give it my close attention in all of my energy. two years ago, americans faced a judgment at the polls that the nation's problems had been subordinated for too long to problems abroad. working middle income families from a corporate downsizing, defense industry conversion, violent crime, college costs, and inflated health insurance costs all made americans ask us here in washington to focus on america needs. president clinton and the democratic congress responded with a budget that cuts the deficit and has contributed to the creation of more than 4 million new jobs in the last two years. and with legislation to reduce crime, improve college loans, broaden trade, speed up the
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introduction of new technologies, and the economic prosperity they promise. we also made a strong effort to reform the existing health insurance system so that every american could afford private health insurance coverage as good as that which covers senators and members of the house of representatives. the president made this effort a high priority. y hillary rodham clinton devoted thousands of hours and they both deserve enormous credit. many members of congress, most of whom democrats, but including some courageous republicans, worked to develop reforms and our health care system. we welcome the president who supported our work on health reform. most americans like our health care system but they know the health insurance system is
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broken and needs fixing. too many families have lost insurance because of child got cancer or a father lost his job. too many families can't afford to pay $300 or $400 a month if the place they work does not provide health insurance. i believe that all americans have a right to affordable, high quality health care. unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of our republican colleagues in the senate do not agree. under the rules of the senate, a minority can obstruct the majority. this is what happened to comprehensive health insurance reform. over the past few weeks, i have had a number of productive meetings with senators and the so-called mainstream group to explore the possibility of a modified reform plan. we reached agreement on almost
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all issues. i believe we could have and would have come to final agreement on the substance of a bill. but that is not the only factor for a successful outcome. any bill must command the votes necessary to pass. greed, all a great, -- a all of the members with the mainstream group, that it would serve no purpose to go forward unless we had the necessary votes. that agreement with the mainstream group would produce the 60 votes needed to devote a republican filibuster. regrettably, very few senate republicans shared that view. the overwhelming majority opposed any health care legislation, even a modest bill to to extend health insurance to children, and reforms and industry practices. then, last week, the republican
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leaders of the house and senate said aloud what their colleagues had been saying privately. they will oppose any health care bill this year, modest or not, bipartisan or not. even the republicans are a minority in the congress, in the senate, they are a minority with a veto. they have the ability to block legislation and they have done so on health care reform. therefore, it is clear that health insurance reform cannot be enacted this year. on september 18, "the new york times" reported that the republican floor manager on health care, senator bob packwood, told his republican colleagues, and i quote " we have killed health care reform. now we've got to make sure our fingerprints are not on it."
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they have succeeded in their first objective of killing health care reform. whether they succeed in making sure their finger print are not on it remains to be seen. i commend all of those senators who worked so hard and so long in this effort. there are many, many of them, and i can name only a few. effective work was done in the senate labor committee under senator kennedy's leadership and in the senate finance committee under senator moynihan's leadership. senator wofford, senator daschle, and senator rockefeller led the way and senator chafee among republican senators led the way. they are among a larger number who wanted to pass meaningful
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legislation is your, but unfortunately, but were not able to do some. i. i will be pleased to take questions. >> how about next year, one of the prospects next year or the year after? is. mitchell: i believe it inevitable that comprehensive health care reform will be enacted. 10 will recall that it took years or more to pass medicare. and there was great deal of opposition to it. it was not until after the decisive election of 1964 that it finally was enacted. and i believe that the same thing will happen in notably -- inevitably on health care reform. i do not knowing cannot say whether it will be next year or the year after. obviously, many factors will contribute to that, but i believe, given the situation
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with respect to health insurance and health financing, especially that action is inevitable. >> your democratic colleagues and democratic candidates for tofice to use this to blame, use this in the election six weeks from now? sen. mitchell: i have not discussed this in that context. that will be a matter for each candidate to judge on his or her own. >> i'm sorry. >> the senators you mentioned and praise to are talking about next year, you will not the among the. any regrets on your decision? sen. mitchell: on my decision not to seek reelection? no. i have no regrets. [laughter] >> as the current -- sen. mitchell: > regret we were not able to pass health care reform but i do not regret my decision to not seek reelection. >> has the acrimony in the final days of the session lead you, facetiously or not, to say that this is among the worst session to have seen and that is why you do not regret it. sen. mitchell: it has been a
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very difficult session. and the events of last week were unprecedented in the history of the senate and th history of our natione. we have not had a situation to the best of the knowledge of the senate historian and the senate parliamentarian and others of whom i have inquired in which we had a filibuster on trying to take a bill to conference. and i think there is now a policy in place on the part of the republicans of total obstruction. that is to say, simply, to block anything and everything no matter what. that is regrettable. is helpful toit the institution. nor do i think ultimately will it be helpful to either political party or to individual senators. presenting this
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to senators interested in putting forth a bill that would just cover children, are not going to make any attempt? there will be no legislation put up this year? him, that hewith will not attempt to bring that to the floor? sen. mitchell: do you think as an amendment to some other bill? >> right. sen. mitchell: i speak only for myself, of course. i would encourage senators not to do that. senatoryou know, every is his or her own person and acts on their own. i do not believe any useful purpose would be served in so doing. >> go back over your own process in making this decision and at what point you finally made the decision is was not doable. was it over the weekend, or? sen. mitchell: i reached the
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decision in a preliminary way during the meeting at the white house last week. when the republican leaders of the house and senate told president clinton in my presence typethey would oppose any of health care legislation this year. and then went on to say not only with a oppose any health care legislation but if an attempt was made to pass it, they would try to kill other, unrelated legislation, which they otherwise might have supported. everylearly endangered aspect of the legislative agenda. and, in effect, placed other important measures in a position of being hostage to health care legislation. since the prospects for passing
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health care legislation were not good, in any event, i believe that i've made the appropriate decision. i then discussed it further with members of the mainstream group, specifically senator chafee and senator durham berger on the republican side and senator kerry of nebraska on the democratic side. i asked senator chafee to canvas his republican colleagues who are part of the mainstream group to determine how many of them would support ending a filibuster on a compromised bill were we able to reach compromise. and i also undertook to simultaneously consult with my democratic colleagues. discussions, those
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and the report i received from senator chafee, my conclusion, my tentative decision not to proceed was reinforced. that is to say, it became increasingly clear that it would not be possible in any event to get the 60 votes needed to end the certain republican filibuster against even a modified bill. i had intended to make a statement of this type last friday afternoon, but there were a large number of senators who have an interest in this matter and with whom i wanted to speak personally before announcing any decision to inform them of what i was considering doing to get their reaction and to give them the opportunity to get their v iews to me, and i was not able
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to reach them all by friday afternoon. so, i continued the process of talking with them over the weekend, and during the day today. and in those discussions, several of them urged me not to take this action, not to announce this decision, but rather to make an effort to proceed. several others said they agreed with me. in any event, the decision was mine. and it was reached in the time and for the reasons i have just stated. >> other items on the agenda. is campaign finance reform in a similar condition and how do you stand? sen. mitchell: i strongly favor enactment of both campaign finance reform legislation and trade legislation, to which your question refers. i will continue to do the best i
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can to get them both past. course, facing difficult situation on campaign finance reform legislation. i referred to the fact that we now have for the first time in the senate's history to my knowledge of filibuster on trying to get a bill to conference. that is the bill to which i referred. as you know, incredibly enough, there exists under the senate rules the possibility of three separate filibusters just to take a bill to conference. we've overcome one of them. we're going to vote on the second one to mark. w-- tomorrow. go throughequired to an additional 60 hours of legislative session and a third cloture motion to get conference. i hope that our colleagues will discontinue this effort, and that we can proceed to passage of the bill. i think it is very important.
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and i think the gatt is very important. it will reduce tariffs worldwide on american goods by 1/3. it will greatly enhance the ability of americans who are engaged in activities involving intellectual property rights and services to make those goods and services available in other countries. it will be very good for the american economy. i'm going to do the best i can to see that that bill is enacted. >> are you saying if republicans do not relent on the procedure filibuster on campaign finance reform is done? be havinghell: i must trouble communicating because i intended to say just the opposite. we are going to proceed. i hope they relent but we are going to proceed. >> it has been often repeated that you gave up a chance to be on the supreme court to shepherd health care reform through the senate, and this was going to be
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a crowning achievement of your legislative career. now in light of the fact you are pronouncing it dead, is this a personal defeat about -- above and beyond the reasons you mentioned? sen. mitchell: i'm disappointed, of course. i believe strongly that health care reform is necessary in our country. and i would have much preferred a situation in which i were now having a press conference announcing passage of the bill, but i do not regret my decision. i believe i made the right decision based upon the circumstances which existed at the time. the president had set a high priority on health care reform. so had i. in fact, long predating bill clinton becoming president. i've served on the senate health subcommittee for nearly 15 years. i was chairman of that subcommittee before i became
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majority leader and have been involved in health policy for a long time. e beene more iv''v involved, the more convinced i have been of the need for action. when i met with the president, he told me he wanted to nominate me to fill the supreme court vacancy. i told him i wanted to get health care reform legislation passed. i felt it would be difficult in any event, and it would be made even more difficult were i to have to withdraw for majority leader in the middle of the session, and i felt that would be necessary were i to be nominated to the court. fullyd not serve throughout the year as majority leader were i nominate. therefore, i felt the best thing to do would be to decline the offer and to concentrate my efforts on health care reform. the president also wanted health care reform. he made it very clear to me when
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he talked -- we talked that he wanted to pass health care reform. he deserves enormous credit for making this a high ferdie. -- high priority. high on the american agenda and i think that when it eventually does pass, it will be to his credit. i think i'ved, made the right decision on the circumstances which existed at the time. when i told him that i knew it would be difficult in any event, it turns out i was right. david? >> some republicans said that there was some miscalculation, that a deal could event cut, perhaps by the president, last winter with republicans to get a bill through but you were not ready to deal. in fact, it was that political miscalculation that brought us to where we are today. sen. mitchell: i do not believe that to be inaccurate assessment. if you go back over time, you would see that late last year senator chafee introduced a bill
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which was cosponsored by senator dole. i believe a total of more than 20 republican senators. which propose universal health care, and a mandate to achieve universal health care. but over time, as the political circumstances changed, they abandoned their own legislation and moved away from it. and i do not believe that there was such a time or such an agreement possible. in fact, this is obviously all all speculative- but i am certain that was not possible. >> what did the president say? sen. mitchell: no, i talked to the president on friday. >> the decision to throw in the towel? sen. mitchell: the president was disappointed. he thinks health care reform is very important he has devoted a great deal of time and effort to it. >> does he agree with you in that way? sen. mitchell: i did not ask him
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to agree or disagree with me. and i didn't, it was simply the nature of my informing him of my view and he listened and graciously responded, said a few nice things about me and what i try to do. i'm sure he's going to be able to, he will speak for himself. >> other than the republican attitude towards health care, which you explained, are there other larger lessons you learned in this effort about the size of the bill or things that you think went wrong in the process, or? men who wrote the the american constitution had as their central objective the prevention of tyranny in america. they lived under a british king, they did not want their re evero
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be an american king. to they tried very hard prevent any individual agency or branch of government from accumulating total power. they accomplished their objective by dispensing -- dispersing power widely throughout her system, making it difficult to get anything done so as to prevent bad things from happening. the process, they made it difficult to do even good things, and overall, i think their decisions were correct. we have a good system which preserves our individual liberty. but it is very clear that those who want to obstruct or prevent things from happening have an a norm is a dented in the american -- -- an a norm is advantage in the senate -- an enormous advantage. of those who want to enact conflux legislation have a large burden to overcome. notwithstanding that, we have in
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the past acted when there has been sufficient interest and support across the country. declined, that support as the legislation's complexity andexploited by opponents, there was, also, a great deal of misinformation presented about the bill by those who opposed it. in addition, i'm certain that myself and others who favored it could have done a better job of focusing public attention. and i except responsibility for that. but ultimately, i believe that difficult as it is, and complex as a subjects like this is to move through the legislative process, that because it is so right and necessary that it will occur. >> do you think the mainstream bill, do you think that is a good starting point for next year?
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or do you think that is something that you are willing to deal with given the timeframe -- you get to go over again when you get back? sen. mitchell: i think there will be several good starting points next year, including the mainstream group's efforts, including the efforts by senators harkin and levin, including senator kennedy and senator moynahan's and others. i have said on several occasions, i commend the members of the mainstream group, democrats and republicans, like. i think they were serious, sincere, wanted a bill. their behalf and mine, and most important a from the standpoint of the american people we were not able to get it done. they indicated to me that they are going to put their bill out foruse it as a bsiasis debate and discussion over the course of the next several possibly, although they
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did not state it, and the hopes it will become the basis for action next year. >> you had negotiated with them a-mitchell-cheney they were talking about a pure mainstream product. sen. mitchell: i believe what they are going to do is take the original mainstream bill, then they will determine which of the changes we discussed they think are appropriate. i'm quite certain it will not be all of the changes because some of those are copper misys. although-- are compromises. on several points, several said to me we think your suggestions are good and improve our bill. therefore, we are going to include them. >> dole promise to free things up -- to a certain point the republicans did not want to have a bill on health care. there was another point to where they wanted this, in order to what they have got you saying what you are saying to. . you are saying that health care
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is over. will they free up on gatt? have you gotten any quid pro quo on this? sen. mitchell: there is no quid pro quo. there is no agreement. i did not negotiate any agreement with senator dole. >> do you get a sense from your meetings with them, having said what you said, putting health care aside for this year, that they were prepared to expedite the remaining legislation? sen. mitchell: i don't know that. i can only report the objective facts as they occurred in my presence and as they exist. the threat was made specifically to oppose gatt if any effort was made on health care. my hope is that, since we will not be proceeding on health care, there will be support for no effort toe made negotiate an agreement to that effect. senator, when congress comes
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back next year, they will be starting from a point where the mainstream group left off and were senators harkin and le vin left off, what is to say the republicans will be more accepting of working with the democrats or, what is to say they are going to be more desirous of doing a health care reform bill next year? sen. mitchell: there is nothing to say that. >> senator, could this bill have passed last year? >> what would your advice be to the incoming congress as to what they might be able to do to make it work next year? sen. mitchell: do the best they can to present a bill and move forward on it as we tried to do this year without final success. i have no way, your question seems to be will the republicans act better next year than they did this year. i have no way of knowing that. i hope they do. >> could this bill have passed last year of the white house had gotten legislation up earlier? sen. mitchell: i don't know.
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i do not think that is the reason for this. we had time to act this year had there not been the adamant opposition to it. i think that the president i believe deserves a great deal of credit for the effort he has made on this. no president has done this to as involvedthat he h himself in it personally, involved the first lady in it. devoted ahe details, great deal of time and effort to it. placed it front and center on the american agenda. and when this, when the reform passes in whatever form it takes, i believe that it will be due in large part to the initial certainlyde, i'm containing efforts, of president clinton. you say, could the bill have been sent up earlier? well, era were many who argued
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to the president, do not send the bill up. proposing outline. it is one of those darned if you do or darned if you don't. if you do not, all the critics say, where is the bill? if you do, all the critics pick i tt apart. i think he did a good job. in pushing it. >> several of your democratic colleagues suggested that even if you could not pass a bill, at least bring a bill back to the republican tactics for what they are. why did you opt not even to do that? sen. mitchell: first, i believe the republican tactics are clear. be any know how it can more clear than in senator packwood's own words. he was the republican manager of the bill. "we've killed health care reform. now we've got to make sure our
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finger print are not on it." secondly, we have other important legislation to attempt to enact. third, the time is limited and even two or three or four more are important at this stage. in addition, it is obvious the bill couldn't pass, but we do not have 60 votes. that is an unpleasant reality but it is reality. i must deal with the senate as it exists, not as a widgesh it were. for all of those reasons, i concluded this was the best course of action. i have the greatest respect for my colleagues who feel differently. and there are some of them who feel very strongly differently, and who urged a different course of action upon me.
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but, ultimately, the responsibility and the decision are mine. i believe this to be the correct decision. >> senator, you said several times this year that republicans blocking health care would hurt them politically. is that still your feeling, and does that hurt them this fall? sen. mitchell: that will depend in large part upon the individual races. that aelieve, overall, pattern of obstruction has theged that is so clear to american people that it will have an affect, not just on health care reform, but on other matters as well. peter? >> the chances of this issues future, youin the said earlier, you pointed out that medicare passed only after the decided 1964 election.
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a lot of people thought it was a rather decisive election in 1992. was the moment lost, and will it take another -- we have to wait another presidential election and some further statements by voters before this issue can come up and get passed? sen. mitchell: it is not possible to know that, of course, but the difference between the election of 1964 and 1992 is that the republicans preserved a sufficient number in the senate after the 1992 election to effectively filibustered to deathy any legislation that they were united on. that was the case on health care reform. after theot the case 1964 election in either the numbers or the temper of the times. so it is a combination, i think,
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of numbers and the sentiment that exists in the country at the time. >> you predict the republicans are going to lose that margin in midterm elections. so, effectively, is your production that this issue up at least until 1996? no. mitchell: no, i'm making perdition. i think you are asking me to and i am declining. what i'm saying is that no one can be sure. it depends upon the races. part ofize that it's your function to draw national conclusions from specific event. the matter is i have been involved in many elections and have traveled all across the country in many elections. what is or is not at issue in a particular campaign depends upon the candidates. health care might be a major issue in some campaigns and not an issue at all in others. so, the affect cannot be stated in any broad, national, all-encompassing sense. if two candidates agree on an
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issue, it isn't an issue. that has been my experience. whichick those things on there is disagreement and they think will be held to them. it will probably make a difference in some places and make no difference in others. >> campaign finance reform, there are two other major pieces of reform legislation pending, the congressional compliance bill and the lobbying registration and gift ban. what is your intention on getting this up to the floor? sen. mitchell: hopefully get them up and pass them both. >> how do you intend to get the congressional compliance bill out, will it be an amendment, or should it be brought up as a freestanding -- ? sen. mitchell: i hope it is a freestanding bill but i have not made a decision. we are still trying to pass the procreation -- appropriations bills required by l aw to pass.
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we are still engaged in a filibuster, the second of three filibuster, and going to conference on campaign-finance reform. we have a filibuster going to conference on the california desert protection act. these, when you've got multiple filibuster is coming at you from all sides, the of take each day one at a time and each step one at a time. so, hope we can bring them both up and pass them, but if you want to know the time or day or precisely how it is going to happen, we have not reached that point yet. hait, take a question on please? >> do think congress is to propose a deadline for withdrawal of american soldiers? sen. mitchell: my preference is there not be a deadline. because i think it will make the situation more difficult there. there are several senators who agree with my view. there are several senators who
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hold a contrary view. and i'm certain that it will be decided on the senate floor. i do not yet know what the outcome will be. >> it will come to a vote this week? sen. mitchell: i do not know when it will come to a vote. i expect it will come to a vote but i cannot predict wh en, because we do not know, to give an example, the second filibuster on campaign-finance reform will be voted on tomorrow. under the rules come the republicans can use up 30 legislative hours at that point. they did it last week and we were in all that. i do not know whether they will do it again. if they do, it means that everything will be delayed, including this or the other bills that we are asked about. it depends in large part upon how many filibusters we have and how much delay we have. i'd like to make, if i might, one point that has not been made yet, and that is that, although
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i'm very disappointed at the results on health care reform, as i said, i would much prefer to be here announcing passage of a bill, i think in many respects, this has been a very good and productive session of the congress already. the most important thing that president clinton has done, the most important factor in the presidential campaign of 1992 was to change the economic policy of this country. the president's economic plan and his deficit reduction or postal of last year passed. and we are seeing the benefits of that now. when theents said president put his plan for that if it were passed, economic growth would go down, the deficit would go up and unemployment would go up. everything single republican in congress voted against the president's plan. we cast it. -- passed it.
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what is happened has been the opposite -- economic growth is way up. federal reserve board has seen fit to raise interest rates four times to slowed on economic growth. unemployment and down and the deficit is way down. the president's plan cut spending by $255 billion, the largest reduction in spending ever in our nation's history. so i think it has been a good result with more than 4 million jobs being created, 90% in the private sector. we have done a lot of very good things. the north american free trade agreement, the family medical leave act, the on them is crime bill, the community service bill, the brady bill, whole host of others that i think o nce once we have the perspective of time and distance, we will see a lot was done. and i hope we still can get a lot done in the remaining weeks of this session, including some of the bills i have mentioned in response to questions --
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campaign-finance reform, congressional compliance, lobbying and gift reform, the world trade agreement, and many others as well. i thank you. i will give you the last question. you have been very patient. >> what role do you see a special interests in the outcome of health care reform? sen. mitchell: i believe that special interest played a very large role in making this impossible to pass reform legislation this year. i've read newspaper accounts of large sums of money being spent in lobbying against the bill. and according to those accounts, it is by far a record, tens of billions of dollars being spent in lobbying activities against the bill led by the insurance industry. and i must say a lot of the information about the bill was false. there were substantial, a substantial campaign of
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misinformation that raised questions in the minds of the american people. i think the combination of the insurance industry on the outside and majority of the republicans on the inside proved to be too much to overcome. thank you, all, very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] have a writtenll statement. i listen to the majority leader and i think he announced what many of us have known for some time. whenss starting back congress and gephardt and senator mitchell went down to the white house several weeks ago to tell them their plan was dead. so, i do not know what happened. , crested not have the votes for democrats did not have the votes for it. senator mitchell blames publicans for everything except crash intone that the white house. and that may come yet. in any


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