The video by PBS dubbed Obamas Deal provides an insight to what really happened for the universal healthcare program or Obama care to be achieved in 2010.The video breaks down the events from before presidency, the promise, the journey challenges, controversies, achievements and finally to the bill being signed. The issue of healthcare seemed to be delicate in politics with even vice president Bidden at the time being opposed to comprehensive reforms.
In an interview with CBS News Obama reiterated that Health care reforms were a contentious complex issue in the US political scene since the sector contributed to at least a sixth of the economy and there were so many stakeholders involved. Powerful interest groups reaping billions from the industry not forgetting people directly involved through taxes have to be considered (CBSNews, n.pag). He also pointed out that the healthcare issue at that time was sensitive as the country had just come out of recession. This meant that there was a lot of debate on the extent of government involvement in the economy (CBSNews, n.pag). The fact that previous presidents like Bill Clinton had tried to push for healthcare reforms and failed also made it very unpopular especially in the political circles.
As a priority agenda in his first term the president had to do a lot of lobbying to try to make the dream of reforms and the promise to the people a reality amid revolt in his back yard, interest groups and republicans in opposition of the reforms. The PBS video explores the change of tactics by the Obama administration to involve congress in the bill every step of the way with the president taking a back seat. The result was a series of mistakes.
The video highlights deals Obama had to make with Insurance companies through the senate. He appointed Max Baucus chairman of the senate finance committee to handle the same. Baucus himself a lobbyist had invited insurance interest groups to testify at the hearings without a single activist representative. This created a general feeling that the voice of the people was not considered in the talks. Activists staged a protest during one of the senate finance committee hearings and were even arrested for disruption. Another deal was also being negotiated with pharmaceuticals through their lobbyist Billy Tauzin contrary to Obamas campaign ideology on lobbyists. The result was a revolt at council meetings over the summer. People felt cheated because of the perceived benefit of the bill to the pharmaceuticals and insurance companies and the trickledown effect on their wages through taxes.
The video also outlines the reaction of interest groups which on foreseeing a collapse of the insurance bill in their favor, had to fight back led by Karen Ignagni. They rallied lobbyists and campaign contributions in Capitol Hill, funded studies in their favor and had commercials through the chamber of commerce against the proposed bill citing hidden taxes. This strategy paid off as the public option for healthcare was reviewed and proposed taxes on medical device makers were lowered in their favor.
After many trials and errors the president publicly admitted mistakes made and employed a change of tact. Through rigorous campaigning the president had to personally take charge of the process for the bill to finally be passed.
CBSNews. "Transcript: Obama on 'Face the Nation'" CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 20 Sept. 2009.
Web. 05 May 2016. <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcript-obama-on-face-the-nation-5324077/>. Electronic source.
PBS. "Watch Full Episodes Online of FRONTLINE on PBS | Obama's Deal." PBS. Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 14 Apr. 2010. Web. 05 May 2016.
<http://video.pbs.org/video/1468710007/>. Electronic Source.
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