Monday, January 25, 2010

Brief Political Aside

Now that health care reform seems mostly dead, I wonder whether or not--as a political matter--it ultimately helps President Obama. One suspects that legislation of the type which Congress almost sent to the president might have done the broader economy some measure of harm. At least that was one of the main arguments against it. So what happens if, in the medium-term future, America enters a period of economic recovery?

On the face of it, that would be very good news for Obama. Hard to imagine him winning reelection if the economy--in particular employment--hasn't gone a good deal of the way toward 2007 levels by 2012.

But on the other hand, what does it say about the president if the economy enters a period of broad recovery without his healthcare reform having been passed? You'll recall that in his big February 2009 address he claimed that passing three giant legislative re-orderings of the American economy, in healthcare, energy, and education, was critical to recovery, and that without these initiatives, America would be crippled. If none of these initiatives pass, and yet the economy recovers anyway, surely that says something about the president.

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