The Obama’s Deal
The Obamacare or Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act came into Law on the 23rd day of March 2010. Notably, the process of enactment of the Act witnessed the significant ideological differences between the Republicans and the Democrats in the house (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). For instance, even though Democrats preferred open process and markup of the legislation, the Republicans skipped the majority of the hearings and opted for the floor votes (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). Consequently, the healthcare amendment bill went through numerous amendments and closed-door negotiations that characterized the final process of the law. President Obama had initially engaged the white house chief of staff, a strategist who had served in the Clinton Administration, to enter into back-door deals and establish a personal relationship with Congress (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). However, back-door deals with pharmaceutical companies caused public outrage and jeopardized the whole process. After that, President Obama was forced to make a presidential address to congress to fast-track the process of amending the healthcare system (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). Lastly, the election of Scotts Brown, and approaching presidential elections, forced President Obama to deal with Congress lawmakers directly, and therefore addressing misconceptions about the amendments (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019).
The bill went through several obstacles before it was passed into law by President Obama. First, significant differences between the Republicans and the Democrats, whereby the Democrats supported the amendment to the healthcare laws while the Republicans opposed any changes to the laws (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). Moreover, the Democrats failed to gain some republicans for support, and some Republicans also were unable to engage the Democrats. Secondly, the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, a die-hard supporter of Obamacare, was a significant setback to Senate majority votes needed for the passage of the bill (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). Furthermore, political support dwindled after a Republican, Scotts Brown, who rejected the amendment, won the Massachusetts special election. Thirdly, public outrage led by individual lobby groups and insurance companies made it impossible for fruitful public participation in the legislative process (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). Additionally, majority leader Harry Reid could not whip all the Democrats to support the bill, hence relied on the support of moderate Democrats to reach a consensus. Lastly, the failure of Republicans and the Democrats to reach an agreement resulted in lengthy and fruitless debates on the floor of the house (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019).
To make the bill more appealing to the Republicans, the Democrats could have initially reached out to the Republicans before Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, revealed the healthcare system amendment plan in July 2009 (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). By engaging the republican in the process, the house could have witnessed early compromise on thorny issues such as abortion and tax burden. Secondly, the Democrats should not have relied on their numerical supremacy and control in the house to try to bulldoze the bill through the house (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). Instead, they should have reached out to the Republicans to ensure a non-partisan approach to the amendment. For instance, President Obama opting to engage the Republicans directly instead of using back-door deals helped in addressing misconceptions (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). Lastly, the early formation of a subcommittee of the house, composed of representatives from the two parties, could have resulted in an initial unanimous consent agreement on contentious clauses in the bill (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019).
Alternatively, the Republicans were also in a position to reach out to the Democrats in Congress to ensure a bipartisan approach. To achieve that, they should have engaged the Obama administration so that they can strike an early ideological compromise on matters such as abortion and taxation (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019). Another strategy would have been for Republican legislators not to lobby their political supporters such as insurance company so that they get equal opportunity to receive accurate information about the bill (Kirk, Gilmore & Wiser, 2019).
KIRK, M., GILMORE, J., & WISER, M. (2019). Obama’s Deal. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/obamasdeal/