“Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA, when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment. Why not just announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term? Thus was born Obamacare, a check-the-box, news-cycle expedient that would ultimately define a president. ‘We needed something to say,’ recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. ‘I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.’”
I have a hard time believing this could happen, but it certainly might partially explain why the law is so terrible. I never believed that the government could make healthcare better, but I have to admit I’m shocked that they are making it so much worse. It explains even more how the White House could so easily grant waivers to all their friends who complained about the law and also how they could delay some parts of its implementation. If Obama was a real believer in the Affordable Care Act, he would have reacted negatively to the idea of granting exemptions or delaying it.
“Obama’s legacy on health care began with the pressure to say something, anything, at the progressive health conference a year before the first presidential primary votes were cast. He needed to keep up with Clinton, his party’s front-runner, and Edwards, who was trying to carve out space to Clinton’s left as the party’s liberal standard-bearer.”
This illustrates a principle that applies to many politicians: Politicians don’t run for office to do grand things; they do grand things because they are running for office. They don’t want power in order to use if for good, they promise good in order to gain power.
Politico tells us that Obama later “fell in love” with the “ugly-duckling issue”—even though his aides had dismissed it as “Hillary’s thing.” I find the idea of Obama falling in love with anything difficult to imagine. But consider:
“By the time Obamacare was signed into law in March 2010, Obama had committed fully to the fight, surprising even those closest to him by the intensity of his personal commitment, his desire to achieve something historic and — last but not least — his fear of being publicly humiliated by a defeat.”
Perhaps Obama could fall in love with the issue because of he took his own rhetoric seriously. This would illustrate another principle: politicians are usually so gullible and self-infatuated that they believe their own lies.