"Do Your Homework"
"You can get so much credit in life, just by doing your homework," said Betsy McCaughey, in a recent interview for The King's College Distinguished Visitor Series. For the past two decades, she has made a name for herself by doing just that.
McCaughey gained notoriety in 1993 when she wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal criticizing the Clinton healthcare plan. Having read the 239-page bill brief, she argued that the White House had misrepresented its contents in public statements, and that the legislation would have "devastating consequences."
Two months later, she published an expanded critique in the more left-leaning The New Republic, called "No Exit." The story won a National Magazine Award, and McCaughey's arguments were adopted and drawn upon by opponents of the bill.
"It had nothing to do with politics," said McCaughey. "But, just revealing what this bill said had a major impact on its fate in Congress." Support for the bill stagnated, and it was never brought to a vote.
McCaughey holds a Ph.D. in History from Columbia, and served as Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1995 to 1998. For most of Tuesday's conversation, she and Dr. Marvin Olasky focused on the debate and issues surrounding President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
This time around, she has, again, been a notable voice in the opposition. Her criticisms inspired the catchphrase "death panels," and she made dozens of appearances on TV and radio talk shows.
"The political parties have come to this rather late," McCaughey said. "But it occupies such a big part of people's time."
For Tuesday's interview, McCaughey brought a 2,700-page copy of the passed bill, crammed into a large binder. "Regardless of the content," said McCaughey, "Congress should have stuffed this in the paper shredder and given us a 20-page bill, in honest English, that Congress members would have read before they voted on it."
Should anyone accuse her of being insincere about her 20-page goal, McCaughey has drafted a proposed healthcare reform bill of that exact length. Its full text is viewable on her website, www.defendyourhealthcare.org.
McCaughey said she is not opposed to healthcare reform outright. She supports many provisions included in the PPACA—namely, creating high-risk insurance pools for people with preexisting medical conditions.
"The fallacy," she said, "is that you need 2,700 pages of Constitution-violating powers in order to include those good provisions."