Friday, July 19, 2013

Obamacare and Hardening of the Political Arteries
A man is as old as his arteries.
Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689), English Physician
The Affordable Care Act is now over three and one half years old.   Public unpopularity remains high at 65%. Republican resistance is as hard and unyielding  as ever.
Why is this?   In yesterday’s Washington Post article “With Legacy on the Line, Obama Touts Health Care Implementation,” Karen Tumulty nails the problem.   She says “Transforming the nation’s health-care system stands as Barack Obama’s most crucial piece of unfinished business, with much of his presidential legacy riding on whether it is deemed to have succeeded or failed….The question of who is to blame for the fact that the bill passed without a single Republican vote is likely to remain a matter of dispute between the parties for years to come.”
To protect his legacy,  President Obama isn’t going to give into the Republicans. He will fight to the death (and the veto) to keep his law alive.  

The Republicans, having been rebuffed, ignored, and not consulted  three and one half years ago,  have dug in their heels.   A national piece of historical legislation  affecting every American has never passed without a single vote from the opposing party.   To Republicans, the unilateral, or unipartisan, passage was an act of unparalleled arrogance, and they are not about to forgive and forget.  Politics is a test of  the art of compromise, and Obama failed.

In ancient times,  there was an ancient wartime practice of pouring poison into sources of fresh water before an invading army, to diminish the attacking army's strength.  This  practice became known as “poisoning the well,” and poisoning the well was precisely what Obama and the Democrats did when they passed Obamacare without reading it and withut consulting with Republicans. 

Now that the public and others know what’s in it, to use Nancy Pelosi’ memorable line,  hardening of the political categories is at a near death stage. Poison remains in the well.   The singular act of passing it without a single GOP vote lives on.  From a political point of view, that act of arrogance, is more important than all the provisions,  regulations,  costs, and consequences of the law combined.

Tweet:  When Obamacare passed 3 ½ years ago without a single Republican vote, it poisoned the political well and led to today’s political gridlock.

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