Does Obama’s healthcare victory point to future legislative strategy?

March 23, 2010


When President Barack Obama signed healthcare reform into law today, was he also endorsing the preferred White House strategy for legislation to come?

After months of political wrangling and face-reddening rhetoric all around, Obama’s sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system became reality without a single Republican voting for it.

Democrats say that’s because the Republicans want to render Obama’s presidency a failure. They point to a recently published account of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strategic game plan to deny Democrats any support on big legislation.

Meanwhile, Obama has seized upon the virtue of being ever-ready and ever-willing to cooperate with the reliably uncooperative. In doing so, he has effectively used GOP stubbornness as a foil. And there’s been evidence that the ploy has political merit.

Now the president has triumphed. Does this mean the White House will pursue its remaining legislative agenda in partisan fashion while making the immovable Republicans look like the bad guys? USA-HEALTHCARE/

Here’s how David Axelrod fielded that question on NBC’s Today show: “We owe it to the country to work together to solve problems. But we can’t stall our progress because of political decisions that have been made by one party or the other that we’re going to try and shut the whole process down. We can’t allow that to happen.”

The idea of getting congressional Democrats to ram through the rest of Obama’s agenda may depend on how confident those lawmakers are about their own job prospects — and how well-founded their hopes or fears prove to be come November.

The Republican National Committee has one Democrat firmly in its sights: Nancy Pelosi. They’ve launched a Web site that pictures the House speaker clenching her fists in apparent frustration before the flames of Hades. Its aim is to raise $1,002,010 in campaign donations to help Republicans win 40 House seats in November. “40 Seats Means No More Madam Speaker,” the RNC explains. By last count, the site had drawn $942,025 in pledges.

Photo credits: Reuters/Jason Reed (the Obamas); Reuters/Jason Reed (Leading Republicans)

Click here for more political coverage from Reuters


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

As a former Republican, I can say that I’ve never seen a party more adept at driving away supporters. I’m self-employed and socially conservative, so I should be an ideal Republican voter. But I am not a racist, nor am I without a sense of social responsibility. Nor do I believe anymore that corporate American can be trusted.

For the Democrats to do well in the fall elections, they now must do something about Wall Street. That will ensure that Republicans remain a non-player in national politics for decades to come.

Posted by 611Juniper | Report as abusive

They’re just pissed because the bill got passed even though they objected to everything and helped with virtually nothing.

If they still insist on trying to derail the president while refusing to do anything to contribute to the well being of the citizenry then they will find themselves an irrelevant party. It’s 2010. Americans are more educated these days. And the internet lets us check facts from our own homes and compare them to avalanche BS that spews from the mouth of every politician.

If legislators want to remain in office then they need to serve the citizenry. And corporations are not real citizens. Cozy up to them and loose the votes of the people you’ve (our legislators) screwed over time and again.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive

WOW – the guys writing the headlines sure have a short memory…. forgot what happened to Ted Kennedy’s seat??? As for the “Strategy” in getting this bill passed — all they did was go around and buy-off (bribe) the holdouts with riders (pork-barreling) to the bill that have NOTHING to do with health care but will continue to drive up national debt. That’s the reality folks — it had NOTHING to do with high moral principles, logical persuasion, or ethics. That’s why the vote was done electronically in secret. That’s why no one has yet to see the final copy. Regardless of which party you support — if this is our democracy, the system is broken.

Posted by JJWest | Report as abusive

Funny how these guys recognize that transparency is the cure for Wall Street fraud yet at the same time obscure their own work with secret electronic voting, rider bills unrelated to the core of the legislation, etc.

Posted by WalterDoohdah | Report as abusive

For once, the Democrats have shown the ability to govern with spine, which is what Americans understand and desperately need. I am mindful of all the genuine concerns of the Republicans, but the concerns are no recipe for stalling; philosophical differences should not undermine reasonableness. Leadership entails making tough decisions; and at this perilious time, Americans deserve the very tough decision. Financial regulation is next, and I hope the Democrats can act and act with decisively.

Posted by 0okm9ijn | Report as abusive


No one has yet to see the final copy?

Where do you people get this stuff? Jesus.

Oh, the system is broken you say? That’s rich coming from someone like you. It’s the republican party and the fanatical and ignorant tea party movement along with their lobbying buddies that demonstrates that the system is broken, not Obama and the health care bill. The latter demonstrate that there’s still hope and a glimmer of sanity and rationality.

Posted by HappyHeathen | Report as abusive

@HappyHeathen. The final copy contains the riders (pork-barreling) which were negotiated and finalized on Sunday and have yet to be released. If you don’t think that’s how it passed then you need to do your homework. The only way the system will stay broken (for both parties) is when the fanatical polarization (on both sides)such as you demonstrate precludes rational dialogue and unbiased analysis. Your virulent response is exactly what the “talking heads” in DC depend on to lead the ignorant around like cattle. Don’t believe for one minute that either party holds the moral high ground.

Posted by JJWest | Report as abusive

@JJWest Wait a second. You said, “no one has yet to see the final copy,” yet you also said that, “The final copy contains the riders (pork-barreling) which were negotiated and finalized on Sunday and have yet to be released.” … I thought you said nobody has seen the final copy? How do you know what it contains then? That’s just hypocritical.

Posted by swedefense59 | Report as abusive

@swededefense59…… wow, this is like fighting a war of intellect against an unarmed person — To fund the riders they must be included in the document (remember Palin’s bridge-to-nowhere?). Same thing. And swede, you don’t mean “hypocritical” you mean “hypothetical”. Anything else you need help with??

Posted by JJWest | Report as abusive

Well the Repos created Wall Street as we know it today with all its lack of adult supervision when they very deliberately deregulated everything they could, yet even now they’re trying to block any return to fiscal sanity there. How about they take a lesson from history for a chance? All those regulations were put in place after the ’29 crash so there wouldn’t be another one leading to another Great Depression. Surely as night follows day, the regulations and regulators are removed, Wall Street thinks it’s more clever than it really is and gambles with other people’s money again, the profits get privatized and the losses get socialized in the form of all those bailouts. Thanks for nothing, GOP!

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

I can see the top 2% of wealth moving assets to Costa Rica or the Caymans as fast as they can

Posted by Story_Burn | Report as abusive

Typical DemoCRAP, either ignorant or a lier. The often GOP blamed repealing of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 by the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton on November 12, 1999. It was passed with the majority of Democrats voting for it. Yes a majority of Republicans voted for it also, but how is it then their fault? Blame it on “the government” but solely on one party is a LIE! Just a note, the only independent at the time in the House voted against it…

Posted by Alisair | Report as abusive

I much prefer the British parliamentary system to the US republican model. The Amercian elected representatives are always fighting each other, that’s how the system was set up. No one in the US is “responsible”: the House, the Senate and the President can all blame each other. Due to lack of obligatory party solidarity, each politician is effectively “for sale” to the highest bidder. And when sh*t hits the fan,all the politicians can readily point to someone else ans say “not MY fault” the legislation didn’t pass.

Posted by Anthonykovic | Report as abusive

Repos create the Wall St. mess, really?

The New York Times reported on Oct. 23, 1999: “Dodd, whose state is home to the nation’s largest insurance companies, and Schumer, with strong ties to Wall Street, have long sought legislation to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act.”

none can deny the repeal of glass steagall did alot to get us into this mess. so there is plenty of blame to go around.

Posted by gmcc | Report as abusive

JJwest: Wow! You just described politics! If you think that either party functions solely on high moral values than you are really naive. Sorry, the rest of your posts really seems like sour grapes and are not worth responding to.

Posted by Scott_mich | Report as abusive

Legislation should be enacted so if citizens vote for anything but Democrat candidates, then the votes would be discarded. As Obama shows, only Democrats can get this done. Thankfully we have Obama in until 2016!!


Posted by blueyes1077 | Report as abusive

Why are all these people posting? With the passage of health care reform, I thought the world would end. Oh, that’s right, it won’t be a sudden collapse, the “death panels” are going to pick them off one by one.

Posted by birdman0 | Report as abusive

The GOP had their 10 years of majority (Legislative, Executive AND Judicial branches), and yet produced nothing more than tax breaks for the wealthy and free handouts for their cronies. Why else did lobbying become the biggest business in Washington during those 10 years?

Since they lost power, they only scream ‘Foul!’ ‘No!’ and ‘Socialism!’ (as opposed to the free market meltdown that they created). Let them scream, and let the voters see how they act like pouting children who now don’t make the playground rules. There is a major difference between active legislative wrangling and sheer obstructionism; the GOP has chosen the latter.

Posted by Mike_s1 | Report as abusive

Democrats should be very proud of their accomplishment. Ramming a bill through with threats to your own party members, millions of dollars in bribes, using obscure rules for voting that were never meant to be used as they were. Yep, real heroes!

Is it November yet?

Posted by charliethompto | Report as abusive

This is what bothers me about politics. So Republicans want to make Obama’s presidency a failure? And this is different from when Democrats did the same to Bush? How is it that it only becomes a problem when it is being done to a Democrat President?

And the Democrats say they can make this political? Even Obama attacked Republicans because he said they were making this political.

So Nancy Pelosi allow some Democrats, in conservative districts, to vote no so that they could avoid the backlash of their constitutients is not a political move?

I find it interesting that Democrats tell us this bill is so good for the American people; yet some of them voted no so they could avoid having to explain it to their constituents come Novemeber?

I guess it is only a crime for Republicans to make it political. Fir Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the Democrats its still A-OK to play politics with it.

Posted by HeatherGirl | Report as abusive

Trying to defeat a left leaning health care reform bill is called obstructionism?

So here is ahypothetical for you. If republicans regain the majority and decide to do “abortion reform” are you suggesting that Democrats will support it and not become “obstructionist”?

Or will they stick to liberal values and do everything possible to defeat the bill?

And how is that any different then Republicans do the same today with the health care bill?

Posted by HeatherGirl | Report as abusive

“… we can’t stall our progress because of political decisions that have been made by one party or the other that we’re going to try and shut the whole process down. We can’t allow that to happen.” according to Axelrod. What he forgot to mention was that they wouldn’t allow the American people to have a say either.
The fix was in (and still is). Ram as much as they can through and lick their wounds after November. Immigration reform is next so they can fatten their voting base.

Posted by persch | Report as abusive

JJWest, I’ve read the health care bill that was passed by the House at d111:H.R.3590:

and the reconciliation bill being debated is here: d111:H.R.4872:

Now, was that so hard? I mean, it doesn’t agree with the GOP talking points, but then again not much does….

Posted by Kumicho | Report as abusive

The largest FLAW in our system of Government stems from the fact that being procative never gets a politician anywhere. That is why our lawmakers do nothing to stop a crises before it happens. Politicians get credit for cleaning up a mess. They never get credit for preventing one. Voters are to blame for this, because as human beings we respond to hero worship, and you cannot be a hero unless you successfully battle a crises. Today everyone thinks Corporations are greedy evil entities that cannot be trusted. Of course they are! That’s why we have lawmakers that are SUPPOSED to monitor them and keep them in check before they inevitably spiral out of control. Unfortunately our lawmakers simply ignored their duties and allowed AIG and the rest to get as greedy as they wanted until it all imploded. Now in the midst of the fingerpointing arises our new Hero Government that can pretty much write an endless number of checks and do pretty much whatever they want because we allegedly need them to save us. In reality, we needed our Government the most BEFORE all this happened. But there’s no glory in preventing disaster. Until this flaw is recognized and repaired we will continue to make these mistakes to the detriment of us all.

Posted by GLK | Report as abusive

I think Obama’s first job is to enforce this new law.

There are hundreds of “sanctuary cities” around the country, and almost entire “sanctuary states” where it is illegal to check a person’s immigration status, under any circumstances.

That set a strong precedent for the 10+ states who filed suit against the Health Care bill (and the 27 other states considering legislation blocking its enforcement) because the federal government has taken no action whatsoever to enforce federal law in these “sanctuary cities.” Indeed, they reinforced their legal status in the stimulus package which gave tens of billions to these same cities and states.

As the law now stands, every illegal immigrant in those “sanctuary cities” will receive the full benefits of this Health Care reform bill – perhaps 2 million undocumented workers will be on Medicaid. 8 million illegals are already on private health care plans – they will benefit from the new law as well.

Obama should concentrate on this “historic” bill above all else, and drop everything else in his agenda, if he wants it to remain “historic.”

Posted by BTUBill | Report as abusive

November is coming

Tick Tock

Posted by Stopthemadness | Report as abusive

Yes, November is coming and hopefully all our Republican dead beats are waking up to smell the manure that has been spread by the Democrats that just go ahead and do as they please. Laws mean nothing to Obama’s party. If it doesn’t fit, change it.This man is the perfect example of who should not be allowed or involved in running our government.

Posted by MorganBentley | Report as abusive

The GOP is just playing it’s old game of politics as usual. The same old strategy of snaring the ignorant into its fold as a way of gaining votes has not changed. It is a reaction and a tactic of a weakened splintered party fueled by corporate interests.
It is not a party of progressive government, but rather the party of the economic elite that manages to get people who do not read newspapers, read books, travel abroad, or think for themselves. It is not the political party that the rest of the world will look to for inspiration as governing the wealthy, democratic world power we aspire to be.

Posted by michaelmoore | Report as abusive

To those who have claimed the American political system is broken, that the United States would do well to make sure that 32 million Americans remain without health insurance, and that the United States should continue to pour our resources into the Iraq war, I will use the old Republican meme of the late 1960s and 1970s: America, Love it or Leave it.

Posted by 1AmericanGuy | Report as abusive

It is clear now that the GOP has become the preferred party of our country’s white trash.

Posted by michaelmoore | Report as abusive


You speak from experience.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive


Watch out. If you try to push your reality-based views too hard on this web site, there are a few out there out to “attempt” to destroy you.

I happen to agree with you and the majority of other Americans out there.

Keep telling the truth, they have nothing to offer but lies and personal attacks.

Notice, they offer nothing but conspiracy theories against the president? They are so desperate…. Can’t even talk about the benefits of their conservative radical agenda they are forcing on all Americans….

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive


Yes, you are a troll and always have been.

Truth comes out about you.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive


You speak from experience.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive


You better stop plagiarizing me. It is illegal.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive


You better stop plagiarizing Getplaning. It shows your inability to come up with anything original on your own.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

Presidents are still human and regular people just like us. We all curse. So why can’t they ?

Posted by PRECIOUS22502 | Report as abusive

[…] Does Obama’s healthcare victory point to future legislative strategy? May 6, 2010 By CMAC When President Barack Obama signed healthcare reform into law today, was he also endorsing the pre… […]

Posted by Does Obama’s healthcare victory point to future legislative strategy? | Pitts Report | Report as abusive