Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The First Year of the Obama Administration: Health Care

The first two urgent tasks of the Obama administration were cleaning up the mess in the economy and in war that the president inherited. I think it is greatly to his credit that, while addressing these inherited emergencies, Pres. Obama has also aggressively pushed ahead with solving the top long-term domestic problem: health care. This is really where the positive program of the Obama administration begins.

The United States spends more on health care than any other nation, without getting all citizens cared for. We have the worst of both worlds, because we lack a universal system of health care insurance. Barack Obama made universal health care central to his campaign. I agree heartily.

The President is not the king. He cannot decree law. Laws have to come from the legislature. The president's party does have a majority in both houses of the legislature - just barely. And that party - my Democratic Party - is a very big tent. Its members never march in lockstep. Moreover, legislators are horse-traders and pork-collectors for their constituents. All legislation is full of compromises that no one person would ever have chosen, least of all the president.

President Obama knew that to get universal health care he had to go to work on it right away, work on it hard, and make many compromises. Moreover, in our ingenious republican form of government in which powers are separated and separated again, the legislature has to take the initiative in actually crafting legislation. Until Congress produces a bill, the president has the bully pulpit and not much else.

I believe Pres. Obama has been admirably focused on getting a universal health insurance bill through Congress. This fight is far from over, and he faces some wiley opponents. Nonetheless, I believe he will succeed. Universal health insurance will be one of the great achievements of the Obama administration.

In order to get health care, the president has had to hold up on many other important needs of the country. I am very hopeful that we will have a law signed by the State of the Union address later this month. The president can then turn to next great initiatives of the Obama administration.


ceemac said...

I too am glad a bill was adopted. I was disappointed that it took so long. I would like to have seen a bill that was negotiated months prior to the inauguaration. Sen Kennedy could have presented it on Jan 21. It should have been adopted by Easter if not sooner.

I am also concerned that all of the legislative horsetrading and porking will is going to cost Obama and the Dems support among Centrists/Independents/Repubs who embraced the call for "change" in 2008.

I suspect that for many of those folks "change" meant the end of "horsetrading and porking." And they will vote against the hrosetraders/porkers in 2010.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Joe Wilson was correct: Obama LIES.

I am so angry about the outrageous, bold-faced lying by this president that I can hardly stand it.

It's as bad, or worse, than read-my-lips Bush 1.

Kerri said...

Anonymous, what exactly has Obama lied about?

Anonymous said...

Obama promised over and over to have the health care proceedings televised. He promised that the American people would be able to watch the debate.

Even Jack Cafferty from CNN, normally an Obama lapdog, is steamed.

Gruntled said...

Obama is president, not king. If Congress chooses to have closed-door negotiations, he can't really make them do otherwise.

I understood his pledge to be that the advice the administration took on health care would be transparent, not the legislative negotiations. This is in contrast with both the Clinton health care plan and the Bush energy meetings, which were annoyingly secret.

Anonymous said...

No, he specifically said that the "negotiations" would be televised on CSPAN. He even said at least once that they would be "streaming over the Net".

pam said...

Mr. Gruntled it is painfully obvious you have drunk the Obama Kool-aid.

You are in danger of loosing your centrist credentials.

Gruntled said...

Pam: could you be more specific in your criticism?

pam said...

It is becoming kind of humorous.Virtually Obama's every shortcoming is blamed on Bush. It makes Obama look weak and you look a little whiney. Will it ever stop? I can only hope. It is distracting.

All four of you first year "centrist reports" Blame Bush in one way or another.

Gruntled said...

Which shortcomings do you have in mind? I think I have been naming strengths and achievements of the Obama administration.

President Obama has, indeed, had to spend more time fixing mistakes of the previous administration so far than on developing his positive program. I don't call these mistakes simply because they were made by the previous administration, but because I think they were mistakes. Do you think torture by our government was a good thing, or a mistake?

pam said...

There you go make my point.