In many ways, his entire term as president has been leading up to this winter and spring. This will be when his core advancements in domestic and foreign policy will be tested as never before. This will be when we see whether the Affordable Care Act can gain traction and legitimacy as a reform that is far better than the chaos and inefficiency of the past; and when we see if the West can bring the great nation of Iran back into the fold of the world economy, with clear restrictions on its nuclear program.
The ACA has gotten off to a really rocky start, with the debacle of the website and the chorus of complaints from those whose health insurance plans will experience disruption. But it’s worth recalling that this law has always had a rocky history. It nearly got swallowed up by the urgent need to wrest the country out of a potential Second Great Depression; it wallowed in Senate inertia for months, as Max Baucus hemmed and hawed; it was pummeled by the summer of Tea Party rage; it nearly came undone when Ted Kennedy’s seat was lost to a Republican; it caused a huge loss in the 2010 Congressional elections, which in turn, helped the GOP gerrymander the House even more to their advantage, and block much of the president’s agenda since. It was the casus belli of the government shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis of this fall. When you look back, you realize why every previous president who tried to get this done failed – from Nixon to Clinton.
And yet it’s still alive, even as it’s enduring severe labor pains as it makes its way into the world. As I noted yesterday, support for it has actually risen recently; and, because of the website’s malfunction, the winners are much less vocal now than the losers. But if the process grinds on, that balance may change. The president should not be let off the hook for his previous overly-broad promises or for the clusterfuck of the site. He may need to adjust again a little. But the odds of the core of this law surviving – particularly the principle of universal coverage and the end of denials of insurance for pre-existing conditions – are solid. It may well need further reform, but it has created a framework for both Republican reform (if they can get out of their ideological mania) and even, perhaps, a single-payer system, if the Democrats want to move left. It’s messy, its future could go in several directions, but it’s now entrenched. The president can take the hit for the problems in the next three years, and he should. Because he’s not up for re-election and can veto any attempts to destroy it...
More at link: The last line will tickle you guys: I once spoke of him as a potential liberal Reagan. For all the nay-sayers out there, it’s still possible.