One of the major differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton lies in their views about what should be the future of “Obamacare.”
Sanders, the longtime independent Senator from Vermont, wants to scrap The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with a single-payer plan.
Clinton, the former Secretary of State, wants to make “incremental” changes in the Act.
The Sanders plan promises greater simplicity and comprehensiveness in providing benefits to those millions of Americans who previously could not obtain medical insurance.
The Clinton approach promises to keep the best features of “Obamacare” and improve those that need changing.
But neither Sanders nor Clinton has directly addressed certain unpalatable truths about the ACA.
These stem not from any intended evil on the part of its chief sponsor, President Barack Obama. Instead, they spring from his idealistic belief that reasonable men could always reach a compromise.
As a result, much of the Act remains seriously flawed. Here are the six reasons why.
Barack Obama is easily one of the most highly educated Presidents in United States history. He is a graduate of Columbia University (B.A. in political science in 1983).
In 1988, he entered Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude–“with great honor”–in 1991.
He was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review at the end of his first year, and president of the journal in his second year.
President Barack Obama
He then taught Constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for 12 years–as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996, and as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004.
So where did he go wrong? Several ways:
Obama Mistake No. 1: Putting off what people wanted while concentrating on what they didn’t.
Obama started off well when he took office. Americans had high expectations of him. This was partly due to his being the first black to be elected President.
And it was partly due to the disastrous legacies of needless war and financial catastrophe left by his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Obama entered office intending to reform the American healthcare system, to make medical care available to all citizens, and not just the richest. But that was not what the vast majority of Americans wanted him to concentrate his energies on.
With the lost of 2.6 million jobs in 2008, Americans wanted Obama to find new ways to create jobs. This was especially true for the 11.1 million unemployed, or those employed only part-time.
Jonathan Alter, who writes sympathetically about the President in The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies, candidly states this.
But Obama chose to spend most of his first year as President pushing the Affordable Care Act (ACA)–which would soon become known as Obamacare–through Congress.
The results were:
- Those desperately seeking employment felt the President didn’t care about them.
- The reform effort became a lightning rod for Right-wing groups like the Koch-brothers-financed Tea Party.
- In 2010, a massive Rightist turnout cost the Democrats the House of Representatives, and threatened Democratic control of the Senate.
Obama Mistake No. 2: He underestimated the amount of opposition he would face to the ACA.
For all of Obama’s academic brilliance and supposed ruthlessness as a “Chicago politician,” he displayed an incredible naivety in dealing with his political opposition.
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), the Florentine statesman and father of modern politics, could have warned him of the consequences of this–through the pages of The Prince, his infamous treatise on the realities of politics.
And either Obama skipped those chapters or ignored their timeless advice for political leaders.
He should have started with Chapter Six: “Of New Dominions Which Have Been Acquired By One’s Own Arms and Ability”:
…There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things.
For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the laws in their favor, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.
This proved exactly the case with the proposed Affordable Care Act.
Its supporters–even when they comprised a majority of the Congress–have always shown far less fervor than its opponents.
This was true before the Act became effective on March 23, 2010. And it has remained true since, with House Republicans voting more than 60 times to repeal, delay or revise the law.
So before President Obama launched his signature effort to reform the American medical system, he should have taken this truism into account.
Obama Mistake No. 3: Failing to consider–and punish–the venom of his political enemies.
The ancient Greeks used to say: “A man’s character is his fate.” It is Obama’s character–and America’s fate–that he is by nature a man of conciliation, not conflict.
Richard Wolffe chronicled Obama’s winning of the White House in his 2009 book, Renegade: The Making of a President. He noted that Obama was always more comfortable when responding to Republican attacks on his character than he was in making attacks on his enemies.