President Obama and Health Care in Four Acts

Written by Henry L. Chambers, Jr. on August 19th, 2009

President Obama will get the health care reform he wants.  If you want to know what it will look like, look at the principles he laid out at the start of the process.  We have seen this show before and I suspect I know how it will end.  The typical plot has four parts.  In Act 1, Obama sets out a principle.  In Act 2, critics attack him and his principle while supporters fret about whether he is doing the right thing.  In Act 3, when it appears as though the plan is about to fail, Obama gets to work and miraculous (or mundane) things occur.  The people rise up and demand that Obama’s principles win out or Democratic lawmakers decide that Obama’s plan is worth fighting for or Obama wades into the fight directly.  In Act 4, Obama wins and the result looks remarkably like what he proposed from the start.

We saw this in the campaign – he wanted to win some Southern states (unthinkable) and a broad mandate and did.  We saw this on the stimulus bill – he wanted $775 B and got $767 B.  We saw this on Sotomayor – shtmpphprXo1Fv[1]e was the top candidate from the start and remained so even after we were treated to a quasi-public display of him interviewing other people.   All President Obama needs is time for Act 3 to play out as he wants, with supporters of his principles standing up and showing that they are willing to fight.  Act 3 is happening now.   When Obama put public option on the table or chopping block, that was him getting to work.  He made it clear that it is time for supporters to stand up and be counted.  I suspect that they will demand a public option and many of the other suggestions found in President Obama’s original list of principles.  President Obama will return to his list of principles and may push them directly.  At that time Republicans will begin to claim that President Obama is going to ram his health care reform down their throats.  It is also the time when President Obama will put the Republicans, and maybe some Blue Dogs, in a corner and ask them if they really want to kill health care reform when the people have demanded it.  The safe Republicans may take an ideological stand, but the Blue Dogs will be reminded that many of their constituents could use a bit of health care reform.  Either we get Act 4 and the president takes a bow or we get midterm elections dominated by health care reform.


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