Obama Drifting Center With Proposed Health Care Amendment
President Barack Obama challenged Republican governors Monday to outshine his championed health care bill, agreeing to support individual state’s plans to repeal the federal health care reform early.
“If you can come up with a better system for your state to provide coverage of the same quality and affordability as the Affordable Coverage Act (ACA), you can take that route instead,” Obama said.
The proposed amendment would allow states to opt out of the ACA by 2014 instead of 2017, as stipulated in the bill, if they can cover the same number of citizens without adding to their deficits. Many of the bill’s key provisions are slated for 2014, including the individual mandate, which has defined many constitutional challenges to the law in court.
Speaking at a meeting of the National Governors' Association, the President’s concession to the nearly two-thirds Republican-majority of U.S. governors indicates to his willingness to compromise amid the new political environment.
“I am not open to refighting the battles of the last two years or undoing the progress we’ve made,” Obama said. “But I am willing to work with anyone, anyone in this room - Democrat, Republican, governor or members of Congress – to make this law even better, to make care even better.
For USC political science professor Christian Gorse, the move is merely political posturing in the face of the 2012 elections.
“Obama needs to establish a more moderate position for 2012,” said Grose, an expert on U.S. politics and government. “Republicans will try to establish him as a radical leftist, pointing to the health care bill in the election. He needs to have some issues he can point to showing he’s a moderate.”
However, some analysts – such as Kevin Drum of Mother Jones – believe that Obama is simply calling the Republican’s bluff over the prospect of creating a comparable healthcare proposal.
“Basically, Obama is calling the bluff of Republicans who insist that they can build a healthcare system that's as extensive and affordable as [the Affordable Care Act] ACA using some combination of tea party-approved "free market" principles,” Drum wrote. “He's telling them to put their money (or, rather, money from the feds) where their mouths are, which will probably demonstrate fairly conclusively that they can't do it.”
Others, such as Ezra Cline of the Washington Post, are convinced that this move of apparent bipartisanship will be detrimental to "anti-ObamaCare" Republicans.
"Now that Obama has admitted it's not a threat to the Affordable Care Act, a lot of the appeal for Republicans dissipates. Supporting it could even be seen as helping the White House in its efforts to defend the law against repeal.”
Grose believes the election will be decided in the nation’s swing states – such as Wisconsin and Colorado – where Obama currently holds roughly 45 to 47 percent approval ratings.
“He’s not going to face a primary challenge. So, his main concern will be appealing to moderate voters,” Grose said. “Traditionally, swing voters vote for people who are more moderate and cant be pigeonholed as extremists.”
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