By: Hassan Barzani (UTSA)
The initial blush of United State’s President Barack Hussein Obama’s health care triumph immediate comes into reality. Even though the total votes were 219-214, this is huge from this current administration. From now on, Obama and the Democrats will promote the measure’s benefits while countering Republican nay-saying and griping about process. Obama’s immediate concern is holding Democratic majorities in Congress. His own political re-election is a while off, but the White House is almost surely focused on it, too.
“We proved that this government, a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people,” the president said late Sunday, beginning his sales pitch from the White House one hour after Congress passed the sweeping measure. “This isn’t radical reform but it is major reform,” he added. “This is what change looks like.”
Even so, Obama reassured rank-and-file Democrats before they cast what he rightly called a tough vote. “It will end up being the smart thing to do politically because I believe that good policy is good politics,” the president said Saturday at the Capitol. Nearby, enraged tea party protesters filled the grounds and the steps of adjacent office buildings, railing against the measure and promising to fire lawmakers who backed it. Protesters were back Sunday, the message the same.
Also unclear is how voters will treat Republicans. Some of the measure’s elements go into effect immediately, such as coverage for children on their parents’ policy until age 26 and prescription drug benefits for seniors. Republicans could be tagged obstructionists if the electorate likes these provisions and if the economy improves.
Past presidents have either seen their poll numbers stay the same or dip during their terms in the White House. This was especially true for Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act and Great Society agenda in the 1960s, Ronald Reagan’s economic measures in the 1980s, and George W. Bush’s tax cuts in the early 2000s. The exception was Bill Clinton, who saw his support increase in the 1990s after signing a contentious budget measure and welfare reform legislation. But it eventually fell.
Still, Democrats face a public fed up with Washington and disappointed by a president elected to change it. A year of bitter haggling and legislative maneuvering may feed into the argument — successfully stoked by Republicans — that Democrats have failed to fix Washington.
That’s the reason some Democrats now worry about losing control of Congress.
“The voters will have their say on the politics,” says White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. Still, he adds: “The president was and the Congress were sent here to address the problems that people face in this country, and that’s what voters want us to see.”