Several U.S. presidents tried and failed to drastically reform the system. In the process they were waylaid by the special interests that gain from a for-profit health insurance program that creates winners and losers from this most basic of necessities.
Thus, the passage of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is Barack Obama’s most significant achievement.
However, Obamacare (as its foes call it) is far from perfect. It leaves in place the for-profit health insurance model. It falls short of the goal of universal coverage. It leaves in place a patchwork of various forms of health insurance, both public and private. While projected to reduce the amount the nation spends on health care, its savings are less than a more comprehensive system would produce.
None of this has mattered to Obama’s Republican opponents. Their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has promised to repeal Obamacare if he’s elected. In a sign of the Republican Party’s radical turn, Romney has mostly repudiated the precursor to Obamacare, a program Gov. Romney created for the residents of Massachusetts.
At times during this presidential campaign it has appeared that neither candidate was willing to defend what is basically the same health-care reform model. Romney was forced to distance himself in order to appease his party’s far-right base. Obama’s reluctance is more of a mystery. The president has yet to forcefully defend a policy that will provide more Americans with health insurance. Perhaps his campaign strategists see some advantage in the soft sell; if so, it’s a case of politics trumping much-needed leadership.
If Obama’s sin is not saying enough, Romney is saying too much, as in putting voice to several sides of the same issue. Is he the “Moderate Mitt” of the debates with Obama or the man captured on video slandering 47 percent of Americans as lazy bums? Perhaps Romney is a can-do technocrat with plans to fix the nation’s economy with tough medicine, a stance that doesn’t win elections. Nobody knows, and that’s a problem.
Neither the incumbent nor his challenger does much to inspire us this election season.
Obama is running a campaign hyper-focused on tallying enough Electoral College votes to swing the race his way. Voters outside of Ohio, Virginia, Florida and the handful of other swing states are left out in the cold.
Romney is merely tolerated by the conservatives in his party whose overriding concern is ending Obama’s presidency, not starting Romney’s. Largely absent from the campaign trail has been the Romney who made a priority of universal coverage for Massachusetts residents.
Thus, in many respects the choice comes down to health care, the promise of coverage for millions of Americans as well as the nation’s ability to control the rising costs of medicine. We will take Romney at his word when he says he will kill Obamacare. A second Obama term, while likely to produce the same partisan gridlock we saw in the first, will protect Obamacare. For this reason, this page recommends Barack Obama for president.