Published: PolicyMic (June 28, 2012)
Two months ago, in my editorial detailing the positive legacy President Obama will leave behind at the end of his first term, I deliberately avoided mentioning his health care reform bill, given that it was at that time “on the Supreme Court chopping block.” Now that it has been officially deemed constitutional, I think it is important to note the two-fold impact it will have on Obama’s historical reputation:
1. It will forever associate Obama’s name with the cause of health care reform. While most people take this for granted today, it is worth remembering that this issue was not at the top of the American policy agenda when Obama took office. The general public was focused primarily on the spiraling economic crash (which Obama has addressed much better than his critics are willing to admit) and, to a lesser extent, on the war on terror (especially Iraq), with the rest fracturing into small minorities when it came to the premium they placed on other major policy questions. Although Obama had mentioned his health care proposals often during his 2008 campaign, there was no reason to believe that he would necessarily prioritize that issue over the numerous others he broached once he actually took office. He wasn’t facing any particularly acute circumstantial or political pressure to act on it, as he was with the economic crisis or the Iraq War.