Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Timing of ACA

I see Michael Tomaskey includes in his criticism of Obama that ".. it was wrong to push health care in year one.."

In retrospect, maybe.  But look at it from Obama's point of view coming into office:  he had promised a spirit of co-operation, and the ACA was based on Republican ideas from the AEI and from Romney's Massachusetts reform that Romney had suggested as a model for the nation.  Obama went so far as supporting the removal the public option from his own party's proposal, to keep under 65 health care entirely in the private sector. The reasonable thing for him to expect was that Republicans would join him in passing a conservative health care plan, so I can see how he thought that reform would be signed, sealed, delivered fairly rapidly.

He hadn't anticipated the GOP determination to block ANY Democratic initiative.  Once it became clear that the Republicans wanted to make health care a political fight, Obama was pretty much trapped into entering the slugfest it became - shelving the plan for another day would have given the GOP a huge and undeserved political victory in his first year.

So, yeah, in retrospect ACA sucked up political capital and energy that should have been devoted to boosting the economy and getting people back to work.  If Obama had any inkling ahead of time of just how low the GOP would sink purely for political gain, perhaps he would have put off  health care reform.  But he came into office promising co-operation, and naively thought the other party would reciprocate.

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