Cost control should have been Obama's priority. He could have combined this with some of the ACA's more modest and less controversial insurance expansions: providing additional federal coverage for poor children; keeping children on their parents' policies until age 26; and establishing insurance exchanges in states to lower premiums for small businesses. But this restrained approach would have disappointed many liberals and denied Obama the presumed historical glory of achieving near-universal coverage.
To all the ACA's substantive defects is now added a looming political and constitutional firestorm. Whether the Supreme Court upholds the whole law, strikes it all down or discards only parts, anger and outrage will ensue. The court may be accused of usurping legislative powers or of cowering before White House intimidation. The ACA has become an instrument of the political polarization that the president regularly deplores.
When historians examine Obama's first term, the irony will be plain. A president bent on burnishing his legacy acted in ways that did the opposite. It's a case of bad judgment.
Robert J. Samuelson is a Washington Post columnist.
- My view: UDOT listened, made a good choice
- My view: Why moderates lost the caucus vote
- Letters: No welfare, ever
- Lois M. Collins: Kids' summer 'bucket list'...
- Letters: Move to the center
- In our opinion: Scouting success will come...
- Richard Davis: Abortion laws should keep up...
- Comprehensive immigration reform or bust
- Letters: No welfare, ever 70
- My view: Why moderates lost the caucus... 32
- Letter: The real death panel:... 30
- Tolerance and the same-sex marriage debate 29
- In our opinion: Big screen exploitation... 25
- Robert J. Samuelson: Can Americans stem... 20
- Richard Davis: Abortion laws should... 19
- In our opinion: Scouting success will... 18