The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the soon-to-be-passed Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act are undoubtedly legislative camels, and the resulting health care system will still make the Australian system look like a beacon of elegance by comparison. But majority opinion seems to be that they push the hideously warped American health care system in a slightly more rational direction, providing more comprehensive coverage to a larger fraction of the population, while tackling a few of the the massive inefficiencies that push the cost of American health care way above that of other developed countries.
Politically, it’s generally viewed as a massive win for the Democrats and especially Barack Obama, who got a centerpiece of the Democratic agenda through the Congress, after decades of trying and failing. The Politico’s Laura Rozen suggests that this may have a reassessment of Obama overseas, particularly in the Middle East:
“Every time I met with an Arab diplomat or anyone from the Middle East, including Israelis, they would invariably ask me, ‘How’s health care going?’” said former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who retired in December to become president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. “And the first couple [of] times, I didn’t really realize what they were actually asking. They were asking, ‘How strong is the president of the United States?’”
Netanyahu’s aides have recently confided that they see Obama as a weak leader whose tenure they can weather, but that calculus may now have to change. After his health care victory, says Wexler, “the president is now a much stronger president, and that will play out in a variety of ways in the Middle East, and also in his direct relations with the leaders in the region, especially Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
…“Definitely Bibi’s inner circle … their strategy has almost literally … been to wait out Obama,” said one Washington Middle East hand who asked for anonymity. Even as recently as last month, Netanyahu’s advisers were saying, ‘We just need to wait him out.’ They [thought] he is a one-term president and that he’s weak.”
If that’s accurate, Bibi Netanyahu needs some new advisers.
More broadly, it will be interesting to see whether this actually does feed in to any more successes on the foreign policy front for Obama.