On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law a sweeping reform of the nation’s healthcare system, handing down to the American people with a stroke of his pen the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act— one of the most significant and controversial pieces of social legislation in the history of the United States
With the individual mandate upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court, ObamaCare has been given a green light. The law is moving forward, albeit slowed somewhat by the new power given to the states to opt out of the expansion of
Medicaid if they choose. But this is a road bump rather than a stop sign and in the long run will not prevent the new healthcare system from becoming fully operational.
All told ObamaCare has, like the proverbial cat with nine lives, survived multiple death scares. When it was being debated in Congress, it seemed many times to hang by a gossamer thread, and yet ultimately won approval in the U.S. Senate after an extraordinary procedural maneuver to block a Republican filibuster that would have certainly killed it in the legislative cradle.
ObamaCare made it out of Congress and onto the desk of President Obama, but just barely. It became the law of the land when he signed it, but since then has not gained any appreciable momentum beyond surviving repeated legal and political assaults. It has remained unpopular with the American people, a majority of whom have consistently said they wish it were repealed.
According to the respected pollster, Rasmussen Reports, ObamaCare remains as unpopular today as when it became law— a level that has remained unchanged even after the Supreme Court’s decision gave it an injection of legitimacy from the third branch of government
Percentage Favoring Repeal of ObamaCare
|% of American People Favoring Repeal of ObamaCare|
|July 2012 (After Supreme Court ruling)||
|March 2010 (ObamaCare becomes law)||
Right from the beginning, ObamaCare has defied the odds. Its passage without the public behind it was unusual in itself, but even more so when measured against historical precedents for similar social legislation like Social Security and Medicare, both of which enjoyed widespread popular support and garnered strong bipartisan votes in Congress.
Social Security, for instance, was voted into law by huge majorities in both the House of Representatives (372-33 in favor) and the Senate (77-6). Medicare also won bipartisan majorities, with vote tallies of 313-115 in the House and 68-21 in the Senate. Against these historic bipartisan benchmarks, ObamaCare’s support in the House (219-212) and Senate (56-44) was tenuous at best, especially since it became law without a single vote from the opposition party.
Even though ObamaCare was passed in a heavy-handed fashion that is unprecedented, its enduring unpopularity has surprised some informed observers. During the national debate over the law prior to its passage, former President Bill Clinton predicted that “the minute the president signs the healthcare reform bill, approval will go up because Americans are inherently optimistic.” Clinton later admitted he was wrong.
Weak at its birth, ObamaCare nonetheless survived its next biggest test by another razor-thin vote when it was upheld by the Supreme Court. Had Chief Justice John Roberts voted the other way, the individual mandate would have been