WASHINGTON -- The late Sen. Ted Kennedy, champion of the recent health plan legislation, actually delayed comprehensive coverage for Americans for decades, says former President Jimmy Carter. It was Kennedy's actions to kill Carter's own health care bill that made Americans wait more than 30 years for meaningful coverage, says Carter in an interview with "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl.
The interview will be broadcast on Sunday, September 19th at 6:00 on Channel 13.
"The fact is that we would have had comprehensive health care now, had it not been for Ted Kennedy's deliberately blocking the legislation that I proposed," he tells Stahl. "It was his fault. Ted Kennedy killed the bill," says Carter. And Kennedy, who then ran against the president for the democratic presidential nomination, did it out of spite says Carter. "He did not want to see me have a major success in that realm of life," he tells Stahl.
In a diary he kept during his presidency, Carter vents about Kennedy's attacks and criticizes Kennedy's own health care bill. The following entry is reprinted in Carter's new book, "White House Diary." "Kennedy continuing his irresponsible and abusive attitude, immediately condemning our health plan. He couldn't get five votes for his plan," Carter wrote.
Carter also tells Stahl that if his energy conservation program, which at the time lowered America's daily dependence on foreign oil by 50 percent, had continued, America would be better off. "Unfortunately, now we're probably importing 12 million barrels a day, since part of my energy policies were abandoned."
He lamented Ronald Reagan's dismantling of the White House solar panels he had put in place. "[Reagan] wanted to show that America was a great nation. So great that we didn’t have to limit the enjoyment of life." Pressed by Stahl that the public liked Reagan's message better than Carter's push to conserve, the former president responds, "That's right, America responded to that quite well."
Carter admits he made mistakes as president, among them his micromanaging and his much berated attempts to de-formalize his office by carrying his own bags and stopping the playing of "Hail to the Chief" when he entered a room. He also says he did try to do too much, but boasts of having passed more programs than many presidents. "I had the best batting average in Congress in recent history of any president, except Lyndon Johnson," says Carter.
Stahl's story also includes an interview with Carter’s daughter Amy, as well as his wife Rosalynn.