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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid