As President Obama’s team struggles to fix the Healthcare.gov website amid widespread criticism, efforts by Republicans to derail his agenda appear to be working. The dimming of Obama’s political power is giving rise to the idea that government cannot solve problems and that governing with a hostile opposition is impossible. Between the difficulty implementing the Affordable Care Act and the struggle to invest in infrastructure in Republican-controlled states, Obama may never have the chance to fulfill ambitious goals.
The disastrous roll-out of the ACA through the broken website has put the light back on the President’s signature healthcare law in the most negative way. Though blame is being directed everywhere, even the President’s supporters are anxious for the problem to be fixed so the nation can experience the effects of a well-intentioned law. One Representative from Virginia worried about the effect on next year’s elections should the problem persist.
“I’m livid that this screw-up actually plays into the hands of the critics,” Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) told The New York Times. Though Republicans have acknowledged the out-of-control costs of U.S. healthcare, GOP lawmakers have yet to propose an alternative, nor have they attempted to work with Democrats in extending healthcare coverage in any way. Though Republicans went so far as to shut down the government over the healthcare law, hindrances by Republican governors may be more damaging to the hopes of successful ACA implementation.
Politico reported that the need to create exchanges in 36 states exemplified the campaign to sabotage Obamacare at the local level, a long-stated goal of the Republican party. In fact, many Republican governors have refused to accept the expansion of Medicaid for state residents despite the fact that it would expand the number of people insured without cost to states in the early years of implementation.
This refusal put an unforeseen burden on the administration and has added to the problems plaguing the ACA in its initial phase. President Obama appears determined to find a way through the crisis at any cost, but the issue of extreme partisanship has led to problems well beyond the roll-out of his signature healthcare legislation.
One example is the stunted program that would have created a high-speed rail line in many areas around the country. Republican governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida rejected funding for the infrastructure investment by the administration, leaving jobs to disappear and private companies like Amtrak the beneficiary of the money intended for nationwide economic development, The Washington Post reported. Opposition of this nature has led many in the U.S. to doubt whether the government is capable of handling projects as large as healthcare or transportation development.
Government-initiated projects may have brought the country out of the Great Depression and spurred citizens to share sacrifice through World War II, but the political realities of modern America have all but crippled the power of the President in the face of GOP opposition. Denying expansion of Medicaid to residents at no cost to a state government may seem illogical, some may even think it cruel and unusual, but it is happening in numerous Republican-lead states, as these leaders believe the health of U.S. citizens should not become a tax burden for the very same citizens. Of the thirty-six states that the federal government has had to step in to create healthcare exchanges, almost half have denied the Medicaid expansion, reports Politico.
As for spurring economic development through infrastructure investment, the Republican governors who denied funding, and thus limited job growth in their states, argued that the projects weren’t necessary, The Washington Post reports. With unemployment a major issue in states such as Wisconsin and Florida, critics would argue the Republican Party — once trusted as the party of the economy — is losing its way. After all, few Americans believe shutting down the government over a law expanding healthcare was wise.
Almost no one believes it was worth shaving $24 billion off the GDP to protest Obamacare, but Republicans made the point that they will go to extreme lengths to block the agenda of Barack Obama and the Democratic party as a whole, thereby calling into question whether the Preisdent will ever have a chance to execute his ambitious plans.
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