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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bartlett: Obama’s Health Care Win Could Lose Him the Election

The Fiscal Times:  Obama’s Health Care Win Could Lose Him the Election, by Bruce Bartlett:

Now that a divided Supreme Court has ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, it appears that it will be implemented on schedule. The cost, however, has been considerable—politically, constitutionally, and economically. ...

We now know two things about Barack Obama’s economic policy his first year in office. First, the economy was in far worse shape than the administration’s public economic forecast projected. ... By turning his attention away from the economy and pivoting toward health, Obama did two things. First, he gave the impression, valid or not, that he was not very focused on the economy. Second, he lost the opportunity to enact additional stimulus. ...

Having committed himself to health reform, I think Obama made another error. During the 2008 campaign he said repeatedly that the nation’s biggest health problem was cost. ... But rather than concentrate on cost control, where Obama might have found Republican support, he instead proposed a program that would expand health insurance for the uninsured. Cost control took a back seat. ...

If Obama needed some other issue to focus on in his first term, tax reform would have made much more sense. In the process, health could easily have been dealt with. Almost all economists believe that the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance is a key source of excessive health care costs. Unfortunately, the exclusion was completely ignored during the health reform debate....

Time will tell whether greatly expanding health coverage to the uninsured was worth it. But at the moment, I am very doubtful that is the case.

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The health exclusion was not completely ignored. It was actually on the table, but unions fought hard against changing it. Remember the health law has the Cadillac tax, which begins in 2018. Come on Bruce. You can do better than this.

Posted by: anonymous | Jul 6, 2012 1:57:34 PM

Meanwhile, Gallup daily tracking poll (covering the last seven days) shows Obama maintaing a lead of 48% to 44%.

Posted by: Bob | Jul 6, 2012 4:21:03 PM

Time will tell whether greatly expanding health coverage to the uninsured was worth it. But at the moment, I am very doubtful that is the case.

I agree. Given that the US government will exhaust its ability to borrow cheaply within several years, government health care subsidies will become unaffordable. All the promises of ACA/ObamaCare will be broken, by necessity. The result will be in some respects worse than if the law had never been passed.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Jul 6, 2012 5:07:58 PM

In 2008 McCain's campaign advisers wanted to change the tax code to push the tax exemption from employers to individuals. McCain, who prefers to drone on about self-sacrifice instead of actual policy changes, basically botched explaining what an important change this could be. Obama characterized it as taxing health insurance, but misleadingly failed to concede that individuals would retain their own tax benefit.

Incredibly cynical but politically smart, blurring the lines on tax policy. Republicans pull a similar trick by hitting Obama on Medicare funding, blurring the lines on handouts to seniors.

Posted by: NL_ | Jul 9, 2012 9:24:48 AM