Watch part of John Edwards's speech.
(CNN) - Just hours before White House rival Hillary Clinton unveiled her massive universal health care plan Monday, three hundred miles east of Des Moines, in Chicago, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was making a dramatic promise of his own: As president, he would cut off health coverage to top government officials until his health care plan is passed into law.
"To show Congress just how serious I am, on the first day of my administration, I will submit legislation that ends health care coverage for the president, all members of Congress, and all senior political appointees in both branches of government on July 20th, 2009 – unless we have passed universal health care reform," Edwards said in a speech to the Laborers Leadership Convention.
Edwards, who was the first presidential candidate to unveil the details of a proposed health care reform plan earlier this year, noted Clinton's plan shares many similarities with his. But Edwards suggested that the New York Democrat is too entrenched in the Washington "system" to successfully bring about reform.
"If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I’m flattered," Edwards said. "But unless Sen. Clinton’s willing to acknowledge the truth about our broken government, and the cost of health care reform, I’m afraid flattery will get us nowhere"
"Actually bringing change starts with telling the truth," he added. "And the truth is: the system in Washington has been hijacked for the benefit of corporate profits and the very wealthiest."
“The lesson Sen. Clinton seems to have learned from her experience with health care is, ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,’” he continued.
Clinton’s health care reform plan has an estimated $110 billion price tag and would require all Americans to have health insurance. Edwards has estimated his plan will cost between $90 and 120 billion.
Related: Clinton unveils mandatory health care insurance plan
– CNN's Alexander Mooney and K.D. Fabian
"Why is it that John Edwards supporters, among others, believe the goverment should have the responsibility to take care of U.S citizens healthcare? Socialism is not the answer. Our federal government will collapse our economy in order to pay for this very crazy idea. And do you really think the goverment has the capability to achieve this? They can't even help hurricane victims and veterans."
I believe that this is Mr. Edwards' point. I can appreciate the fact that the gov't. needn't take care of U.S. citizens, however, I have noticed that they (Congress et al) take care of themselves. Why should these bureaucratic professionals have the entitlements that are not available to all?
I do know that Congress would not vote their privileged status away. Maybe the real problem is Congress itself and this is why I will vote against ALL incumbents who have created a huge number of problems in the process of taking care of themselves.
It,s a good thought John, but people whodon,t know how congress works are now saying Democrats didn,t live up to their promises, not true. But it will take 60 votes to make it to the floor with congress and 67 votes to override a presidental veto. Now as much as your heart is in it, do you honestly think enough people in congress will vote yes to have their health insurance cut off, that is the exact reason that the Democrats can,t get things passed theve tried to , not that they haven,t brought up the issues the American people were concerned with in 2006. Good Luck John and God Bless. A Concerned Citizen
I hear Mrs. Clinton extoll her track record of bringing about change but I wonder why no one has challenged that statement using the fact that her highest profile role of leadership for change is when her husband gave her a leading role in health care reform and, because of her failure in that role, the opportunity for health care reform was buried for the duration of the Clinton administration.