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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid