Support for the administration of US president Barack Obama is fading, and the struggle over healthcare is a main reason. The Democratic party’s ambitions for health reform were only recently an electoral asset. No longer. A slim majority of voters – but a majority nonetheless – now says the plans emerging in Congress are unlikely to make them better off. Congressional action on the issue, once promised by the summer recess, has been delayed until the autumn, and some observers expect the whole endeavour to come to nothing.
One striking aspect of the story is the role played by the Republican party – namely, no role at all.
In Congress, effective opposition to the administration has come from moderate and conservative Democrats, members of the so-called Blue Dog coalition. The independent Congressional Budget Office has also harmed the legislation’s prospects by undermining the administration’s claims about costs. The Democratic plans, says the CBO in its tiresomely honest way, would “bend the curve” in the wrong direction. That verdict has sunk in with the public.
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