September 16th, 2010
02:37 PM ET
4 years ago

Jimmy Carter blames Ted Kennedy for health care delay

Former President Jimmy Carter blamed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy for delaying the passage health care legislation.
Former President Jimmy Carter blamed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy for delaying the passage health care legislation.

(CNN) – The late Sen. Ted Kennedy is widely hailed for devoting his political career to the cause of providing health care to all Americans. But in an interview set to air on 60 Minutes Sunday, former President Jimmy Carter says Kennedy is the one to blame for delaying legislation to provide such care.

"The fact is that we would have had comprehensive health care now, had it not been for Ted Kennedy's deliberately blocking the legislation that I proposed," Carter told CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl. "It was his fault. Ted Kennedy killed the bill."

Carter proposed health care reform in the late 1970s but was unable to sign any legislation. He said Kennedy blocked the bill in Congress out of spite in advance of the Massachusetts senator's unusual, and ultimately unsuccessful 1980 bid to unseat him.

"He did not want to see me have a major success in that realm of life," Carter said.

Kennedy at the time was pressing for a health care program run by the federal government, comparable to the so-called "public option" that many progressives fought for last year. Carter preferred to enact smaller changes over time to improve the existing health care system, similar to the legislation signed by President Obama in March. In the end, both of their plans failed to gain traction and the issue was put on the back burner when Ronald Reagan was elected president.

In his 1982 presidential memoirs, Carter painted Kennedy as a stubborn politician capable of using his clout to obstruct policy changes.

"Because of his key committee assignments, [he is] able to block almost any health legislation of which he does not approve," Carter wrote in Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President. "In effect, he insisted on his plan or nothing at all."

Later in his life, Kennedy expressed regret that he held out for a government-run health care system. While he said he wished he had made a deal to reform health care with President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, it was his same attitude that led him later that decade to criticize Carter's plan for reform.

Kennedy died in August 2009, less than one year before President Obama signed major health care reform legislation.


Filed under: Health care • issues • Jimmy Carter • Ted Kennedy
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Carter is leaving out the facts about his runaway spending that nearly bankrupted this country, and that is precisely why Reagan, is revered.......because he brought us back from the brink.

    Kennedy probably felt it was unaffordable, at the time.

    September 16, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. Ryan Nely

    This is a huge disappointment. It seems as if President Carter is simply trying to tarnish Senator Kennedy's legacy, since the President has already ruined his own.

    September 16, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. Agnim

    MY gad!

    Kennedy IS DEAD and can't defend himself!

    Is there no end to this old man always seeking out the limelight? lol
    Must be the second childhood; because carter is behaving just like the many young fame-whores, who just can't seem to draw enough attention to themselves.

    Only an old fool would think that Kennedy ALONE would be the reason there hasn't been any national health care for America till present.
    Kennedy would have to be a very very powerful man, whom Americans wouldn't even consider as their President.

    September 16, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. Jeff t

    What? The Lion of the Senate defeated health care? I can't believe it. I mean this guy was so great he could kill a person so of course he could kill a bill.

    September 16, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. Myles O'Donnell-Lawson

    None of this is any surprise. Everybody knows Ted Kennedy was a bloated, egotistical, self-serving big-government east coast elitist. If Ted Kennedy wanted his health care plan or none at all, that means he was never really interested in helping people get health care. If he really wanted to help people he would have compromised. Instead, he was only interested in passing a plan stamped by his name first, so that he could get all the credit. And as the article says he also wanted Carter's job, so that hurt any plans Carter had for health care as well.

    Oh, and by the way, Ted Kennedy is responsible for the death of an innocent young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969. Maybe now with his passing can her family find peace.

    September 16, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. jim

    Shows how the progressive little man Carter will go to slam a fellow dem that isn't here to defend himself all in order to make it look like he tried as president to more than he actually did. Carter set the standard for how Obama approaches the nation's economy. People still remember Carter's misery index and Obama's trying to bring it back.

    September 16, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. DagnyTag

    Simply stunning. It's been 2yrs now and morons continue to ask what the difference is between the government requiring car ins and requiring health care ins. Pay close attention incomprehensibly dense liberal loons. The difference lies in the distinction between VOLUNTARY and INVOLUNTARY. Pathetic tool idiots.

    The HC "reform" bill must be repealed and replaced. It is unconstitutional, DOES NOT lower costs (in fact raises them), will reduce quality of care and put a Bureaucrat btwn you and your doctor.

    September 16, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. 30-YR ARMY VETERAN FOR THE TRUTH!

    That is correct. The Kennedys all of them have been snakes in the grass every since the first time Black Jack ran for Congress. He a former bootlegger left his children a financial empire off of what he sold during proabition. They are one more sorry people who have got aweay with adultry, murders money laundryings and plain old gangterism. Thiy caused Marilyn Monroes's death, Teddy boy murdered his pregnant secretary. One of their nephewas killed and molested thir next door teenage girl with a golf club. I would not quote any of the Kennedys nor would i wish ther endorsement as OBAMA received then praised Teddy to the end. WAKE UP AMERICA THE COUNTRY IS BEING RUN BY SCALLIONS.

    September 16, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. Four and The Door

    I think former president Jimmy Carter should be thankful to Ted Kennedy if he got in the way of CarterCare if in fact it was anything at all like ObamaCare. Our economy would be in even worse shape than it is now.

    September 16, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. aneanderthal

    Kennedy was a drunken murderer and this guy was an inept, incompetent, only surpassed by Obozo in his unfittnes for the job. Who you going to believe. The truth really is we don't want Obozocare and it is being shoved down our throats, because liberal think the money we earn is theirs and they know how to spend it better than we do. Arrogant and elite.

    September 16, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. Grrr-Awful-O

    Obviously it's too late to un-vote for Carter for president. Can't believe I actually voted for the guy. Biggest idiot we ever elected. At least he makes Obama look good. Sorta.

    September 16, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. Hypocricy is a Speeding Prius

    Of COURSE Ted Kennedy was a louse. Remember Chappaquiddick? Even Carter isn't naive enough to think he was anything but a selfish drunk.

    September 16, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. John

    So is anyone truely surprised that Teddy was in reality a self serving politician and not the saint he was painted to be when he died?

    September 16, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. Cindie Worley

    Poor Ted Kennedy, dead at age 75 what with all that private health care; and he (and Carter) think government-controlled health care will be better? Ha - laughable!!!

    September 16, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  15. indy

    What good does it do to bring this up now? Is Jimmy Carter still bitter about 1980? It's 30 years for goodness sake. The man is dead. Let it go.

    September 16, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  16. jenn, philadelphia

    Carter is right, but not for that reason. It was a bill proposed by Richard Nixon that Kennedy helped scuttle. Of course, the Kennedys have been mor of a "do as I say, not as I do" group for generations.

    September 16, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. all the news that's fit to omit

    Actually Jimmy, Kennedy blocked Nixon from PASSING HC BEFORE YOU TOOK OFFICE.

    You fools thanks to the compliant and lying media, all thought Hillarycare was the first attempt, but NOOOOOOO.

    Ted Kennedy is/was on record as saying "that NOT passing what Nixon proposed was one of his biggest mistakes in his career".

    HE ALONE STOPPED IT.

    FACT – look it up.

    September 16, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  18. Minnesotan

    And this is why our political system is a failure for Americans. Both Dems and Repubs are more interested in playing their little power games with or over each other than they are in doing the job of making America better.

    September 16, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. stevegee

    After all these years, he's still in a malaise.

    September 16, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. TwM

    Way to throw the dead guy under the bus.
    Typical Democrat always blaming the other guys

    September 16, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. RG

    Very interesting, because of Kennedy, this "can" was kicked down the road, and allowed to fester for 30 years. Imagine how many jobs this could have saved from moving off-shore, due to high healthcare costs. Millions of jobs.

    September 16, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. Dave

    Well, at least Jimmy Carter waited until after Ted Kennedy's death to say these things – that way there can be no reply or defense. We don't really know what happened just one man's word on a dead man's action.

    September 16, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. Descarado

    Carter never had a "minor" success during his Presidency. It took Barack Hussein Obama to rescue him from being the most clueless, incompetent President in American history.

    September 16, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. Steven P

    Jimmy Carter is an idiot. Plain and simple. He didn't have the cojones to make this statement while Kennedy was alive? Please. The second worst administration in history.

    September 16, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. Dennis

    I'll bet this makes Carter even more popular than he already is. How dare he smear St. Teddy. The man who could walk on water, but Mary Jo couldn't.

    September 16, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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