Bradley assails Gore over health policy
November 9, 1999
Web posted at: 5:54 p.m. EST (2254 GMT)
CHICAGO -- Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley is firing back at criticism by Vice President Al Gore, accusing him of backing away from the Clinton Administration's universal health care plan that failed in 1994.
The uncharacteristically blunt speech by Bradley -- delivered Monday to a Chicago public health group -- illustrated that Bradley is clearly set to return fire, in light of Gore's recent criticism of Bradley's vision for the future of health care.
Bradley was also trying to turn the rhetorical tables on Gore, who has accused him of not standing his ground and fighting the Republican majority when he left the Senate in 1996.
"Al Gore decided it wasn't worth standing and fighting," Bradley said Monday."He abandoned the fundamental principle of basic health care for all Americans, the principle he talked about so much in the campaign of 1992, and during the first two years of the administration."
"The lesson Al Gore learned from health care defeat was that big, bold things can't get done in Washington," Bradley continued. "So let's look at small, symbolic things. But that was the wrong lesson."
Bradley's attack comes two weeks after Gore targeted Bradley's own health care proposal -- and its estimated $65 billion-per-year price tag.
"His plan completely eliminates Medicaid," Gore said while stumping in New Hampshire over the weekend. "I'm going to defend Medicaid and Medicare. I don't care what the political party is of somebody that proposes ... to eliminate it.
"You're going to shred the social safety net," Gore said.
Gore insists that Bradley's plan to make insurance available to 95 percent of Americans would actually cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years, and eat up the budget surplus.
Speaking later at a Washington, D.C., pharmacy, Gore described his health care proposal as bold and cost-effective.
"The elements of the plan, taken together, would constitute the boldest new initiative since Medicare and Medicaid, and it would save more than 15 percent of the surplus for Medicare," Gore said. "It would not eliminate the surplus or Medicaid the way the Bradley plan does."
With voters calling the quality of health care a top concern, both Bradley and Gore have seized the issue as the key to defining and differentiating their candidacies. In their quest for the Democratic nomination, the two men have often sounded quite similar on other key issues.