Image: Mitchell Weinstock under CC 3.0
Saying that the late Ted Kennedy stood in the way of comprehensive healthcare reform seems strange: the liberal Democrat took on that issue for decades before his death last year. But that’s what former President Jimmy Carter claims.
Specifically, Carter accuses Kennedy of shooting progressives’ cause in the foot because he opposed a Carter administration proposal in 1978. Kennedy supported a single-payer national health insurance system and considered it a civil right, similar to the “public option” touted in recent years. Labor unions also funded the Campaign for National Health Insurance, which convinced Kennedy to back out of a compromise proposal with Republican Gerald Ford in 1975 due to the potential for soon having a Democrat in office. However, Carter was more moderate than they expected.
In retrospect, it may have made more sense to accept the affordable health insurance reform Carter offered–which would have been effect for decades by now. Washington, D.C. has only become more conservative and polarized since then, and subsequent policy proposals were even more narrow.