Carter: Kennedy blocked health care plan

Americans would have better health care and would be less dependent on foreign oil if former President Jimmy Carter’s plans had been adopted, the Georgia native tells Lesley Stahl of CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Carter blames Senate icon and former presidential rival Ted Kennedy for killing the first one and former President Ronald Reagan for doing away with the second. In an interview with Lesley Stahl for CBS' "60 Minutes," Carter said the late senator Kennedy's efforts to do away with Carter's health care proposal delayed comprehensive coverage for Americans for years.

“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,” Carter tells Stahl in an interview scheduled to be broadcast Sunday.

“It was his fault. Ted Kennedy killed the bill,” Carter said in comments available in a release from "60 Minutes." The release did not include any rebuttal to his comments.

The interview is in efforts to promote Carter’s new book, “White House Diary,” which includes excerpts from a journal he kept during his one-term presidency. In his journal, Carter attacks Kennedy for trashing his own health care plan in favor for another one – Kennedy’s.

As for promoting energy conservation, Carter tells Stahl that his program was lowering America’s dependence on foreign oil by 50 percent. Former President Reagan got rid of the solar panels on the White House that Carter said he put in place and made other changes that did away with conservation, Carter said.

“[Reagan] wanted to show that America was a great nation. So great that we didn’t have to limit the enjoyment of life,” Carter said, acknowledging that Reagan’s plan was better received.

Carter said he passed more programs that any other president – but tells Stahl that trying to do too much was one of the mistakes he made while in office. The others included micromanaging and trying to de-formalize the office by carrying his own bags and asking that “Hail to the Chief” not be played when he entered a room, he said.