News / USA

Obama's Historic Health Care Bill Also A Political Gamble

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, 21 Mar 2010
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, 21 Mar 2010

President Barack Obama won a major political victory this week with congressional passage of his health care reform plan.  Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats made history with the reform legislation, but politically the bill is a major gamble and opposition Republicans have vowed to exact revenge in congressional midterm elections this November.

Unlike many of his predecessors, President Obama scored a political success on health care.  But it remains to be seen whether it is a political blessing or a curse.

Many political experts do see passage of the health care reform bill as historic, including Ross Baker of Rutgers University in New Jersey.

"This is something, after all, that first came to the attention of the American public 100 years ago when a national health insurance program was proposed by President Theodore Roosevelt, and successive presidents, mostly Democrats but not all, have favored it," said Ross Baker.

The Obama plan approved by Congress will eventually extend health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans who were previously uninsured.  The plan will cost nearly $1 trillion over 10 years and will be paid for through a combination of tax increases and projected savings in health care spending.  The bill will also curtail the ability of health insurance companies to limit or end coverage.

Mr. Obama was elected president in 2008 on a promise of change and quickly made health care his top domestic priority.  After a battle in Congress that lasted more than one year, the president and his Democratic allies in Congress finally prevailed.

"We did not avoid our responsibility, we embraced it," said President Obama. "We did not fear our future, we shaped it."

Political analyst and author Richard Wolffe says there is little doubt that the scope of the Obama health care plan makes it historic.

"The underlying legislation is far-reaching and is sweeping," said  Richard Wolffe. "It may not be everything everyone hoped for, but it does have an impact on this huge and growing part of the American economy, as well as being part of the Democratic [Party] dream for so many generations."

Even though the health care bill is historic, it is also a huge political gamble.  Public opinion polls show more Americans oppose the Obama plan than support it, and the president was unable to win a single Republican vote in Congress.

Republicans like Indiana Congressman Mike Pence believe that the president and his Democratic allies in Congress simply defied the will of the American people and will now pay a steep price in the congressional midterm elections in November.

"This is not the president's House," said Mike Pence. "This is not the Democrat's House.  This is the people's House, and the American people don't want a government takeover of health care!"

The health care debate also fueled the rise of the so-called Tea Party movement, loosely organized groups of grass roots conservative, Libertarian and anti-tax activists who opposed the health care plan as too much government involvement in the economy.

Conservatives may have lost the battle in Congress, but they have vowed to defeat Democrats who supported the bill in the November elections.

Tom DeFrank is a veteran political observer with the New York Daily News and a regular guest on VOA's Issues in the News program.

"I think the Republicans are doing what they are doing because they believe it works to their political advantage, and it is certainly clear for about the last six to nine months that it has worked," said Tom DeFrank.

The divisive health care debate has left a bitter aftertaste with lawmakers from both parties, and experts including Richard Wolffe see little hope for the kind of bipartisanship that President Obama talked about when he first came into office.

"Yes, another part of his ambition was to change the tone and the politics and the way politics is done in this town, and that has been a singular failure," he said. "They were not expecting the kind of permanent campaign that Republicans ran, which was, frankly, a little bit naïve, and that has frustrated his efforts to be a bipartisan leader, which was really his goal."

Most experts believe that the partisan nature of the health care debate makes it less likely that Congress will make progress this year on other important issues like immigration reform and climate change.  

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid