Heilemann: Chelsea's Claim Sanders Would 'Strip Millions' of Health Insurance a 'Lie'

January 12th, 2016 7:33 PM

Proving that there is nothing and no one she won't sacrifice on the altar of her political ambition, Hillary Clinton today sent her daughter Chelsea out to smear Bernie Sanders by claiming his health care plan would "strip millions and millions and millions of people of their health insurance."  On today's With All Due Respect, Mark Halperin repeatedly said he was "stunned" by the attack. John Heilemann put in blunter terms, flatly calling the attack a "lie."

Last night I suggested that Hillary's sudden lurch left in proposing a big tax increase on the rich suggested panic on her part. But what she pulled today makes yesterday's panic pale in comparison. Let's call it a sign of craven hysteria.

What the Clintons are claiming is that Sanders would "dismantle" Obamacare, Medicare and private insurance, at which point those dastardly Republicans would leave people with nothing. But Sanders is proposing to replace Obamacare, Medicare, etc. with "single payer." And as much as conservatives would oppose that, there is of course no way Sanders would permit Obamacare and the other programs to expire unless he was sure that he could implement single payer. So Chelsea's claim was a smear of a scare tactic that Heilmannn was right to call a "lie."

Question: did Hillary have to push Chelsea to compromise her integrity in this way, or was Chelsea eager to make her political bones?

JOHN HEILEMANN: And in all our years covering elections and here on planet Earth, we have never seen the next thing we are about to show you on television. Chelsea Clinton playing the role of political attacker. 

CHELSEA CLINTON: Senator Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare, dismantle private insurance. Now the Republicans in congress have voted against the affordable care act 55 times, right? Not because they want to replace it with something because they want to get rid of it. So I worry that if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we'll go back to an era before we had the affordable care act that will strip millions and millions and millions of people of their health insurance. 

. . . 

HEILEMANN: So Mark, Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton beating up on Bernie Sanders. We haven't yet see Bill Clinton do that, but just wait. My question for you is, is she getting in your view smartly tough with Sanders, finally? Or is she panicking? D

MARK HALPERIN: I've covered the Clintons since 1991. It takes a lot to surprise me. I am stunned watching Chelsea Clinton go on the attack. Stunned. Never seen anything like it. And the attack, which her mother is making as well, they're trying to attack Bernie Sanders from the left on health care, when he supports single-payer. I mean, I'm stunned, I'm stunned by the whole thing. I will say, you and I spent a couple days in Iowa. We saw Bernie Sanders. We saw the event last night. There is no doubt Bernie Sanders has built something real. There's no doubt that she has too, but the stakes for her now are immense. I think that she's building up Iowa and New Hampshire. I guess she feels they feel they have no choice. So I think attacking him and going after him is smart, but the way they're doing it, I don't think is smart. 

HEILEMANN: I've got to say, we'e in the same boat. Chelsea Clinton was about 12 years old when we started covering her when she was in the Clinton White House. She is now a grown woman. Very impressive in many ways, but this really, genuinely, never I have I seen it before. She campaigned a little in 2008, said only nice things about her mother, never attacked a Barack Obama, never attacked John Edwards or anybody else. Kind of incredible.

HALPERIN: It's historic.

HEILEMANN: It's historic. Kind of amazing. This attack is not just is it strange politically because the Democratic base is with Bernie Sanders on single payer or Medicare for all. But it's just so disingenuous. They're arguing that what he wants to do is strip away health care from people. As if to say he wants to get rid of the affordable care act and replace it with something else and he's going to block grant it to the states. It's just a lie. Because the only way in which he would ever go to Medicaid for all is as a replacement for the the affordable care act, which would be even broader universal coverage instead of near-universal coverage!