Bill Clinton's Presidency

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Explain two ideas from Clinton's presidency: national health insurance and the Kosovo civil war.

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The desire for national health insurance and the Kyoto Protocols both represent ambitious goals of the Clinton administration that ended in failure. In his first term, Clinton sought to extend health care to all Americans and introduced a complex bill to do so, but opposition in Congress prevented its passage. In his second term, Clinton signed on to the Kyoto Protocols, an international agreement to combat global warming, but the Senate refused to ratify this treaty.

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These are all notable parts of the Clinton presidency. Let's take a closer look at the desire for national health insurance and the Kyoto Protocol.

During his presidential campaign, Bill Clinton made it clear that health care reform would be a major agenda of his administration. Almost immediately after taking office, he created a task force to look into how to extend affordable access to health care to every American. In September of 1993, Clinton announced to Congress the provisions of his proposal. It would guarantee that every citizen and permanent resident of the country could access the health insurance of their choice, would not be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and would be able to access any necessary medical service. Employers of large businesses would be required to offer medical insurance, and the government would create subsidies to insure the poor. The plan also included provisions to reform malpractice law and prevent medical billing fraud.

First Lady Hilary Clinton was put in charge of this task force. She met with several congressional committees to promote this bill. However, it was met by extreme levels of criticism by congressional Republicans who foresaw its passage as a major political defeat. They were joined by insurance companies that claimed that these reforms would create unnecessary bureaucracy and limit a patient's freedom of choice. Even congressional Democrats stymied the process by introducing their own competing plans. Eventually, lack of agreement in Congress scuttled any hopes that this bill would pass. When Republicans won a majority in Congress in 1994, it became clear that Clinton's ambitious health care reform plan would not become a reality.

The Kyoto Protocol emerged from a conference held in that city in 1997. It was an international summit aimed at forming an agreement between developed nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was hoped that industrial counties could create a legally-binding framework to combat global warming and lead the way for other nations to follow. Eventually, 193 nations signed on to the protocols. However, despite orchestrating much of it, the United States never became a party to this international agreement. Representatives from the Clinton administration signed the agreement, but it was never ratified by the Republican-controlled Senate. While this allowed the protocols to be adopted by other nations, the United States' refusal to become a party to the treaty limited its effectiveness.

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