Monday, March 22, 2010

Obama and the Bill

Jonathan Chait in the New Republic:

Barack Obama has sealed his reputation as a president of great
historical import. We don't know what will follow in his presidency,
and it's quite possible that some future event--a war, a scandal--will
define his presidency. But we do know that he has put his imprint on
the structure of American government in a way that no Democratic
president since Lyndon Johnson has...

Historians will see this health care bill as a masterfully crafted
piece of legislation. Obama and the Democrats managed to bring
together most of the stakeholders and every single Senator in their
party. The new law law untangles the dysfunctionalities of the
individual insurance market while fulfilling the political imperative
of leaving the employer-provided system in place. Through determined
advocacy, and against special interest opposition, they put into place
numerous reforms to force efficiency into a wasteful system. They
found hundreds of billions of dollars in payment offsets, a monumental
task in itself. And they will bring economic and physical security to
tens of millions of Americans who would otherwise risk seeing their
lives torn apart. Health care experts for decades have bemoaned the
impossibility of such reforms--the system is wasteful, but the very
waste creates a powerful constituency for the status quo. Finally, the
Democrats have begun to untangle the Gordian knot. It's a staggering
political task and substantive achievement...

More here: