Pop Quiz: Who Stole John Edwards' Health Care Plan?
By: Mark W Adams

If you answered that "unabashed Marxist" Hillary Clinton, (go ahead and giggle at that one, I did), you win.

Seriously, Hillary is best know to Wingnuttystan as the failed author of what they like to call "Hillarycare" and I've been waiting since 1994 for it to be implemented. But instead of immediately entering the presidential race by offering a health care plan she has been identified with for a decade and a half, she originally said that she'd like some kind of vague "universal" program to be implemented by the time she leaves office after her second term.

She's upped the timetable to the first term, and echoing John Edwards includes a mandate that requires medical coverage for all (Obama's plan does not) making it truly universal, sets up a competing public system to compete with private insurers like Edwards proposes, removes obstacles to access for pre-existing conditions (Edwards, ditto), and except for the devil-in-the-details tax considerations and the relative burden on small businesses, it does look every bit as "very, very sound" as the one offered by John Edwards.

The real difference is that Hillary offered a more ambitious (read naive) plan in 1994, and Bill and Hill decided they had other priorities -- they caved. This is not her number one legislative priority, and never has been. She won't fight for this the same way Edwards will. I know this because I feel it in my gut, have seen the past performances of both, and I just superglued my crystal ball back together after the last time I made a prediction (that Notre Dame would beat Michigan).

If she really thought this was a priority, it would have been the first thing she talked about last winter, she would have been introducing legislation right along, she would have fought the good fight. I'm not buying this as anything more than her new strategy to shore up any wavering members of the liberal base -- like trotting out General Wes Clark over the weekend.

She's one of the finest politicians of the last century, but we need leadership, not another campaigner.

Millions of Americans live without health care every day. It’s time for Washington to understand that health care reform isn’t a political issue - it’s a moral issue. If they do, we’ll finally have universal health care. ~ John Edwards

John Edwards not only wrote the plan Hillary now embraces, he also has a plan to get it passed -- something the Clintons never figured out -- or at least weren't willing to fight for -- just as he's not going to lose the high ground on this issue by ignoring Her Slickiness.

Edwards: "If you’re going to negotiate universal health care with the same powerful interests that killed it before, your proposal isn’t a plan, it’s a starting point. I’d like to know what a principled compromise looks like on universal health care. When you cut the deal on universal, who gets left out? And if you don’t compromise on the universal part, does that mean you compromise on the health care part? Lower quality? Higher costs? I don't believe in it.

"In the America I believe in, we don’t compromise our principles. I will not compromise on universal health care - not on coverage, not on quality, not on cost. I’ll fight for it with everything I’ve got.

"And to show Congress just how serious I am, on the first day of my administration, I will submit legislation that ends health care coverage for the president, all members of Congress, and all senior political appointees in both branches of government on July 20th, 2009 - unless we have passed universal health care reform.

All in all, this is a good thing that Hillary has been moved to the left on this and now is on record advocating a publicly funded system. It speaks volumes about the clarity of vision that John Edwards possesses -- that he could take her issue and turn it into something so fantastic that she had to steal it back. It's my number one domestic issue, a moral issue, a deal breaker. I'd like to see Obama get on board the mandate bandwagon. Even Romney and Schwartzenegger believe in mandates.

The Democrats should be able present a united front on this once a nominee is chosen. That means the Blue Dogs best get in line behind this idea. (Yes Zack Space, I mean you.)