As a generally steady supporter of Barack Obama over the past five years I am continually reminded of why he was not my first choice during the primary phase of 2008.
Back then, I described him as a typical college frat president, jovial and back slapping, eager to please in order to remain popular.
This was borne out during his first term, as he attempted to make nice with GOP leaders, and we see how far that went, even with a solid majority in both Houses and, for a short time, a cloture beating plurality of sixty Democratic senators.
Surely we were way better off with him than John McCain, and there were early signs of progress highlighted by the official change mandating the acceptance of gays in the military and the resumption of START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. However, the final passage of the Affordable Care Act, derisively dubbed Obamacare by his opponents, was in trouble when the 2010 special election in Massachusetts, caused by the death of Edward Kennedy, disrupted the Senate 60-vote Democratic majority. The House and Senate had not yet completed their conference efforts on the healthcare bill, and not wishing to risk a new vote in the Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi cajoled her members to accept the previously passed Senate version with the understanding that certain concerns would be taken care of after its enactment.
That's how we got there, a year after Obama took office, and yet it took almost four more years until the main components of the law took effect, just a few months after the very shaky roll-out, even with three and a half years to get the websites in shape.
Okay, that's the old news, and it's clear that little by little the glitches have been repaired, with a steady improvement of sign-ups, along with the understanding of most GOP leaders that it's time to stop their futile efforts to get the law repealed.
However, certain aspects of the law keep getting pushed back, first the employer mandate to 2015 after business elements complained, and now we hear it's being pushed back to 2016 for medium-sized businesses with 50-99 workers on the payroll. Why is this necessary? Why do these businesses need six years to get ready for something that was signed into law in 2010? And doesn't it concern some among the Democratic leadership that the healthcare law may create lots of trouble for the party if all of its aspects have not had time to work out the kinks well before the 2016 election?
There have already been enough problems, mostly of the hysterical nature, wherein GOP naysayers and some of the media, on CNN and Fox News in particular, have highlighted those who are being hurt by the law, as opposed to the many more who are being covered for the first time and those who are finding better coverage and at lower rates.
But the legitimate concerns that have been highlighted may well drown out the greater number of those helped by the law, which may in turn possibly cause the Senate to be dominated by the GOP after the elections this year. If this happens, the Senate will surely work vigorously against Obama during his last two years, in tandem with a House, whose leadership virtually everyone agrees cannot be overturned by the Democrats.
With the chance of a Congress against the president, his only response to GOP obstruction is the power of veto. Furthermore, and of great concern, is if we have to wait until 2016 to get the entire healthcare law set into motion, it is certainly probable that it will take time for the final segments to get it right as well, leading up to a 2016 presidential election during which the healthcare law may be a lot more controversial than it should be.
It's time for President Obama to stop fiddling around with this law and put it on course to be fully operational, hopefully successful and generally set in stone as part of the American landscape by 2016. The way things are going, even with the prospect of running no longer part of his political strategizing, the president still appears more ready to please than to take charge, and that's unfortunately too bad for the betterment of our country.
Michael Russnow's website is www.ramproductionsinternational.com