BRADLEY/GORE: Iowa Debate Features Medicare
Vice President Al Gore continued to assail Bill Bradley's health care reform proposal, particularly his plans for Medicare, as both candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination brought their campaigns to Iowa this weekend, the New York Times reports. Gore blasted Bradley for offering a costly health care reform package without addressing the need to allocate funds to keep Medicare solvent (Seelye/Dao, 1/9). Outlining the differences in their approach to Medicare reform, Gore said, "I allocate $374 billion over the next 10 years to the Medicare program. Under Senator Bradley's plan, he doesn't put a penny into Medicare. And I don't think that's a good approach because I think we need to take care to protect Medicare" (Des Moines Register, 1/9). He continued, "Bill's approach, saying we can wait until Medicare goes bankrupt and address it, ... kind of reminds me of the guy who fell out of a 10-story building, and as he passed the fifth floor, he shouted, 'So far, so good,'" (Sammon, Washington Times, 1/9).
Bradley Fires Back
Responding to what he called a "scare tactic," Bradley said he wanted to replace Medicaid with "something better, so that 40% of people who live in poverty in this country, who don't have Medicaid or any health insurance will have some health insurance will be afraid to make this change. I reject that kind of politics" (Des Moines Register, 1/9). He said that with the strength of the economy, the federal surplus would continue to grow, providing enough money for both universal health care and the preservation of Medicare. Citing President Franklin Roosevelt as a president who enacted several major programs simultaneously, Bradley said, "I think we can do both" (New York Times, 1/9). Noting that his plan is more ambitious than Gore's, Bradley said, "Al Gore says this is too risky to do. My view is that it's too risky not to do" (Sammon, Washington Times, 1/8).
A Tough Road Ahead
Their first in a series of debates in Iowa was crucial for Bradley, who continues to trail Gore in the polls. A Des Moines Register poll Saturday showed Gore at 54% and Bradley at 33%, with 13% undecided (Allen/Edsall, Washington Post, 1/9).