It’s All Rahm’s Fault

If you go by this article from The Hill, the failure of health care reform to pass is all Rahm Emanuel’s fault. Depending upon who you listen to this is because 1) he failed to court Republicans or 2) he allowed Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus to waste too much time courting Republicans.

There is one argument which transcends these two contradictory views:

Some Democrats in Congress also question whether Emanuel scheduled enough time for the president to travel the country to stump for healthcare reform.

“For a guy who talked a lot about not liking the culture of Washington, he spent a lot of time in Washington,” said a Democratic leadership aide.

The aide noted that former President George W. Bush traveled to states and congressional districts he carried on Election Day to pressure Democratic lawmakers to support his agenda. The aide said Obama did not put similar pressure on centrist Republicans.

Regardless of whether Obama did so in swing states or in Washington, in retrospect it is clear that Obama should have spent more time publicly pushing for health care reform and debunking the Republican distortions of the plan. He does appear to have learned this lesson and is  getting more involved. It also would have helped reduce much of the opposition which developed if Obama had stuck to his opposition to the individual mandate which has fueled opposition from elements of both the left and the right.

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  1. 1
    Mill Messenger says:

    #liberal It’s All Rahm’s Fault

  2. 2
    Toast says:

    Obama was wrong about the individual mandate and right to reverse course.  If you require insurers to take all comers but do not require people to buy insurance via an individual mandate, adverse selection blows up the whole system.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    There are other solutions for the free-rider problem. They are more complicated, but would have made it much easier to pass health care reform.

  4. 4
    Jana says:

    Now, granted, I’m very moderate, so perhaps I am not the type of person your blog is meant to speak to.  However, from where I am sitting, it hasn’t appeared that Obama much cared what the actual contents of his bill are.  He seems to have just wanted the Democrats to get something over the finish line.  To people like me, this makes him appear without conviction, other than the conviction to have a historical victory.  It does not, however, appear he cares as much about how these bills will impact me, or millions of others privately insured personally.  Therein lies his problem.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    That is sort of half true, half false.

    I believe Obama has conviction with regards to fixing many of the problems in health care. He has often addressed the problems many of us face, including those without insurance and those of us who are stuck buying insurance on the individual market. His plans would provide for a considerable improvement in the situation for us.

    I also agree that politically the strategy has largely been to get something passed, being willing to compromise on may aspects to get the victory. There have been many mixed signals as to how far he is willing to compromise on certain parts.

    This is partially due to a recognition of how difficult it would be to get health care reform passed, figuring that improvements could be made once the changes are begun. However I can also see how this would lead to you viewing it as you do.

  6. 6
    NatetheGrate says:

    If the Democrats are unable to get a universal healthcare bill passed, Barack Obama will be a one-term president, assuming he’s even able to stomach all four years in office in this repulsive political climate. This is hugely disappointing, since those of us who saw the Obama presidency as an opportunity to restore sanity to the political system are encouraged by the return of aggressive environmental regulation by the executive branch. But that’s politics!

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:


    If it comes down to any one issue, whether Obama is reelected will come down to the state of the economy far more than whether he passes health care reform. Failing to reform health care didn’t keep other presidents before him from getting reelected.

    I still be something will be passed so he can show he did something on the issue, even if he has to scale it back. In terms of  public approval, he might actually do better with something described as scaled back since most people don’t understand what is in the bill and what needs to be done.



  8. 8
    Serious Implications says:

    Obama has moved away from the “Unitary Executive” model foisted on the country by Bush-Cheney. Trying terrorists in civilian court, rather than in military tribunals, is an example of that. Obama’ probably figured it was the House and Senate’s job to write legislation.

    I fault Reid and Pelosi for not coordinating better to sumultaineously write and pass something both houses could agree on. Pelosi knew full well the public option wouldn’t pass the Sentate.

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