The Troubling Legacy of Obamacare
by Jules Witcover
Like Watergate before it, Obamacare has become the gift that keeps on giving -- to partisan opponents determined to bring down an American president.
In 1972, the Republican break-in of the
Now, four decades later, President Barack Obama's first-term success in enacting the health-care insurance program that popularly bears his name, after surviving a diligent Republican effort to repeal it, has fueled a similar drive to assure the failure of his presidency as well.
Seizing on the Obama administration's incredible bungling of the rollout of its crown jewel legislation, the
Throughout Obama's first term, the Republicans in
But in the 2012 presidential election, in which opposition to Obamacare was a principal Republican message to voters, the
Although Romney insisted that his version was intended and suited for his state and not the nation, he inevitably was rendered a poor salesman for the repeal of Obamacare. For this and other reasons impairing Romney's candidacy, Obama was reelected.
After the congressional Republicans in 2013 brought about an image-tarnishing 16-day government shutdown in their failed attempt to defund Obamacare, the second-term president seemed for a time out of the woods on the issue.
But the war against Obamacare went on and has continued with renewed intensity, as its implementation has encountered a sea of logistical troubles. The program's foes suddenly had new political ammunition and determination to kill it after all.
Briefly, bipartisan compromise broke through in a budget deal that brought some hope of a more cooperative
But House Speaker John Boehner has just thrown cold water on the notion, questioning whether the Obama administration "can be entrusted to enforce our laws." He spoke in the wake of the president's State of the Union notice to
Boehner's retreat on immigration on grounds Obama can't be trusted reinforces the Republican focus on this president's competence and trustworthiness, made possible not only by the botched Obamacare rollout but also by his misleading assurance that citizens who liked the insurance they had could keep it.
Thus the thrust of the
Health-care reform was the president's singular legislative success in his first term, a long-sought liberal Democratic goal to go along with his party's prized social safety net achievements of
Few could have imagined when the law was signed amid much jubilation at the
Article: Copyright ©, Tribune Content Agency.
"The Troubling Legacy of Obamacare"