Is health care reform law hurting Obama? Republicans call it the demise of his presidency. Democrats consider it an empowering achievement for the American people and of his presidency.
In February 2012, USA Today’s Susan Page argued in her “Swing States Poll: Health Care hurts Obama in 2012” that the law hurt Obama because Independents, not only Republicans, oppose it.
What does history suggest of the issue’s implications on Obama’s fate of Nov. 6th?
As a LaGrange College political science student seeking to answer that question, I researched the two instances in American history are most closely similar to the Obama administration in terms of Congress’ reaction to a democratic president’s advocacy of health care reform. My research uncovered the following.
Offering health care provided by the government to Americans for the first time in history, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration passed health care reform law that gave birth to the nation’s Medicaid and Medicare in 1965. The following year the Democratic Majority in Congress lost 50 members total from the House of Representatives and the Senate (Moore, Preimesberger, and Tarr, 2001: 1570). Two years later, Republican Richard Nixon won the presidential election with 44% (Gallup, 2012) of the votes in a three way race.
Approximately three decades after Johnson’s feat in 1993 Clinton endorsed health care reform law that was not passed, and in 1994 Democrats lost their congressional majority in both houses of Congress. Still, President Clinton won re-election in 1996 (CNN, 2012) despite the health care reform law controversy of his first term.
Hoping to provide universal health care, in March 2010 the Obama administration signed into law the health care reform’s Affordable Health Care Act. As a result, Democrats lost their congressional majority in the House of Representatives that November. Historical analysis suggests that after such occurrences, Obama has a fifty-fifty chance at reelection.
Nevertheless, there is debate over how the recent Supreme Court’s safeguarding of “Obamacare” may affect President Obama in November, but history also offers him favorable outcome here. When considering that a similar preservation of President George W. Bush’s prescription drug bill did not inhibit Bush from two terms in office, one can infer that health care reform will also have an insignificant effect on Obama’s polling in the 2012 presidential election.
In addition to history’s backing, a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll reports that the Supreme Court’s ruling has helped Obama stating that, all registered voters considered, “support for the law rose 48 percent, up from 43 percent before the court decision (Reuters, 2012).”
The article added that “The survey showed increased backing from Republicans and, crucially, political independents, whose support will be essential to winning the November 6 presidential election (Reuters, 2012).” Health care reform may hurt legislators, but it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to the president.
Nicole Cato is an undergraduate student at LaGrange College.