September 17th, 2007
01:30 PM ET
7 years ago

Edwards threatens to cut off health insurance for Congress

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


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • John Edwards
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. James, Phoenix AZ

    Uh huh... and in your legislation you present to Congress denying THEM health coverage will you include YOU and your family, Mr Edwards?

    How about you stop all health coverage right now for your family and make a personal statement?

    John Edwards doesn't deserve to be President because of his ignorance of how laws are passed. Does he REALLY think congress is going to pass a law removing their healthcare?

    Keep dreaming John.

    September 17, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  2. Lance in Monrovia, CA

    Edwards is a good man. I would vote for an Obama/Edwards ticket in a heartbeat. Think of what a great team they would make. In my mind, Obama has more legislative experience than Edwards and also better judgement as he opposed the Iraq war from the start. But with a few more years, Edwards would make a fine, fine follow up to Obama in the oval office.

    Our nation would truly be back on top with great men like Obama and Edwards in office.

    September 17, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Chris

    I like that idea! They make more than most Americans and should foot the bill for their health. They do work for us (the citizens) after all.

    September 17, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Dennis, Manassas VA

    Now if only he would promise to pass a bill that strips the executive and legislative branches of their pension plans until a law is passed preventing companies from eliminating their pensions plans thru bankruptcy ala Delta and United Airlines.

    This and his plan to strip health care benefits would entice Congress to move heaven and earth to protect American citizens, especially lower and middle class.

    September 17, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Catchy idea to pander to labor dinosaurs, but comprehensive health care ain't gonna happen under Shrillary or anyone else so please stop the posturing.

    September 17, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. Bob, Oakland, CA

    In order to not be a hypocrite Mr Edwards can offer to give all his profits to charity. He wouldn't want to keep money he made suing crooks.

    September 17, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. BBrown

    The entire benefit package of these officials should be revised, not the SSI. When I leave a job my benefits end, only in the land of oz(DC)are Benefits and Pay forever:^(

    September 17, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. David, Gilbert Arizona

    "...I will submit legislation that ends health care coverage for the president, all members of Congress, and all senior political appointees..."

    Hmmm...and who is going to vote for this legislation, the people you want to deny issurance coverage for? Yeah, I'm sure Congress is going to vote yes on that type of legislation.

    We can't afford the price tag that comes with a democratic president. People can't afford the taxes they're paying now. Wait till be get government institutional health coverage. You might get medicine for your flu at no cost but what happens if something real bad happens like cancer or a long term disability? You think the government is going to fork over that sort of money? You're a fool if you say yes.

    September 17, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. therealist

    Notice that John doesn't promise to give us the same health care plan as Congress and he doesn't promise to make Congress use his "Universal Health Care Plan" for us.

    No more mandatory plans from double standard hypocrites elected to represent us.

    September 17, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Julie, Atlanta, GA

    Bring it, John. She and the other candidates have certainly had long enough to think about it and now she acts like she's got some new idea or some new way to get us there. DREAM ON, Mrs. Clinton. You had your chance and you failed. My health and that of other Americans is far too important to give you a second chance.

    Anyone who's paying attention knows that you came out with an extremely comprehensive proposal for universal healthcare that is TRULY universal months ago. The other candidates have certainly had their chance...and they failed to do anything but stall and stall and then copy portions of your most excellent plan and try to claim them as their own. NOT what we need in our president! Good grief, look what we've got in office now. Have we learned NOTHING?!?!?

    GO JOHN GO...We're behind you all the way to OUR White House! :) Wake UP, America! Don't we deserve a president we can TRUST to make decisions on our behalf!?!?!?

    September 17, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  11. Beth, Los Angeles, CA

    I swear I learned in 5th grade that Congress has to pass bills that the Pres proposes; so unless that changed, I think you're right, John.

    Sadly, though, I still think Edwards is probably the most qualified/reasonable person for the job that's running.

    September 17, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. Coach Haughton

    Even If the legislation didn't pass, the public would know every congressman and senator who voted against it. They would be forced to reveal themselves as crooks. Good idea John I've been saying this for years.
    Plus with John Edwards or Barack Obama the money will go towards keeping Americans healthy and not in the Hillraisers pockets.

    September 17, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. James, Phoenix AZ

    "I swear I learned in 5th grade that Congress has to pass bills that the Pres proposes; so unless that changed, I think you're right, John."

    Hi Beth,

    Just a friendly "help"... the President does not dictate what laws to pass – rather – the President is the "idea" person who challenges Congress to help pass laws addressing national concerns. Congress creates, debates, and passes laws they feel best serve in the interest of the Country. The President then must sign the bills into law – and can veto any legislation he disagrees with.

    So.. if John Edwards told congress to get rid of their health benefits... congress would tell John Edwards to go fly a kite.

    September 17, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. Derek Buffalo, NY

    Is this idea of cutting off coverage for top government officials actually feasable? Could this be done by executive order; or would congress have to take up the bill? I like Edwards and this is a bold statement.

    September 17, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. Rob

    Edwards is a good man. I would vote for an Obama/Edwards ticket in a heartbeat. Think of what a great team they would make. In my mind, Obama has more legislative experience than Edwards and also better judgement as he opposed the Iraq war from the start. But with a few more years, Edwards would make a fine, fine follow up to Obama in the oval office.

    Our nation would truly be back on top with great men like Obama and Edwards in office.
    Lance in Monrovia, CA

    *Lance your words are golden to me. I totally agree!

    September 17, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. Robert, Birmingham, AL

    Desperate men say desperate things.

    September 17, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. Mel, St. Louis, MO

    How many millions did John Edwards suck OUT of the medical industry as a trial lawyer? This money cured no patients...and simply made the medical industry practice expensive 'litigation-prevention' tactics, raised doctor's malpractice insurance which then gets passed on to us, and bought him that massive home and pampered lifestyle.

    Restore the free market to health care, take away the legal gravy train, and decrease the need for insurance in the first place and health care pricing will fall into line with other goods and services.

    Edwards is just pandering with meaningless sound bites that would have no effect even if they DID become law.

    September 17, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. Whit, Dallas TX

    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.

    September 17, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. Steve Sumter SC

    I am tired of all the false promises! If I am not mistaken, The Congress writes legislation, the President either signs or vetos. Congress will not vote themselves out a job (Term limits) so why does Edwards believe they will vote for this. A better question is why does Edwards believe the voters will believe this? This is crazy! Can anyone ay...desperate???

    September 17, 2007 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  20. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    Nice thought, but come on John, you know this is grandstanding.

    Should Edwards win the Democratic nod (not likely); get elected president (even less likely, but still possible); and then introduce this legislation; the chances of it passing are somewhere between never-ever-gonna-happen and zero.

    So why go through the effort, unless you want to impress someone or need the free publicity.

    September 17, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  21. Roy Abingdon,Va

    Would the people on here that are praising Edwards (a criminal lawyer and I don't mean he represents criminals other than himself), and Osama Obama (a known radical Islamist to all but the most dense), please send me some of what you are smoking so I can get lost in the haze of Insanity with you.

    September 17, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  22. Rose Hann New London, CT

    John Edwards doesn't have anymore power then I do to take healthcrae away from Congress and the Senate. I think John sounds like a desparate man. Hillary is going to get the parties nomintion John, get over yourself.

    September 17, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. Louis, Laramie, WY

    Paying elected officials was actually a rather progressive idea in its day. The idea was to enable more people to serve in government-when government officials were unpaid, only the rich could afford to serve, thus government was composed of wealthy individuals.

    The same could be said for providing healthcare, only the wealthly will serve in government if they have to pay for it themselves. You think the Republicans care? No, they all got healthcare, so what if they lose their benefits.John Edwards has unintentionally put his foot in his mouth with this one.

    September 17, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  24. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    And a another Nut Case goes public!

    When your a fool you should refrain from opening your mouth and confirming the fact to the world!

    Ever hear of Private Health Care for Politicians John? Do yourself a favour and put a zipper on your lip.

    September 17, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  25. Independent Voter, TN

    Experts on body language contend that when someone is blinking rapidlyand continuously while speaking, they are lying. Check out Edwards as he is giving this speech...

    September 17, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
1 2

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.