By Laurel Masamitsu – Cougar News Contributor
“The legacy we leave behind is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives.”
The topic of legacies is a highly subjective one, but there are two facts surrounding it. The first is that legacies are not built on words but on actions. The second is that the conduct of the individual will determine what kind of legacy he leaves behind.
Through their choices people will create either a positive legacy or a negative legacy. It is well passed his second year as president of the United States and already the media is asking the question “what legacy will President Barack Obama leave behind?” Thus far, President Obama has started to build a negative legacy through his policies. The main policy that has begun to shape it is his health care bill. The legacy of President Obama will be primarily known for the controversial passage of the health care bill.
Throughout his campaign, Obama had promised his supporters a reformation of healthcare. Suffice to say that Obama succeeded in passing his reformed health care bill but at a price. There were several issues surrounding the passing of the bill that will remain a part of this administration’s record. A major issue was the admission that no one, both Democrats and Republicans, fully knew what was in the bill. In fact, Nancy Pelosi stated, “We have to pass [the healthcare bill] to find out what’s in it.” If the Speaker of the House of Representatives did not know what was in the bill, then it should not have gone to a vote until all the details were disclosed.
Pelosi’s comment suggests she did not understand the bill, yet she insisted on blindly passing it without an opportunity to properly debate the ideas therein. There were major concerns pertaining to the cost, the effect on the economy and how the government was going to pay for it; yet, it was passed without adequately addressing these issues. This suggests a reckless disregard for the economic well being of the nation.
The price that Obama paid in passing the bill was a loss of support from the people. During the health care debate, Obama’s response to his loss of approval was “I’d rather be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-termer.” Essentially, he would rather risk losing a second term than give up his ideas despite their unpopularity. It seems he felt his ideas were superior. Health care was passed in opposition to the wishes of the general public. CNN reported, “A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll completed right before the health care bill vote showed that only 39 percent of respondents favored the legislation, with 59 percent opposed. Other polls have consistently showed a solid majority against the health care bill, and only around 40 percent supporting it.” Polls represent the general public opinion and can be inaccurate. However, if other polls show consistent results, in this case the disapproval of health care, that lends credibility to the numbers. The majority of Americans disapproved the health care bill; nevertheless, it was passed. This administration and Congress appeared to dismiss the will of the governed in favor of an ideology.
The passing of the bill gave rise to two situations. The first was the 2010 midterm election. The Tea Party’s active role during the midterm elections was most certainly a direct result from the passing of health care. Out of frustration, the majority of Americans wanted representatives who would listen to them. This general feeling threatened the positions of some Democrats such as Senator Harry Reid. In the scramble to save their seats, literally and figuratively, Democrat incumbents steered clear of mentioning their vote for health care reform. Now that the midterm elections are over, the Republicans will hold the majority in the House of Representatives.
The second situation resulting from the health care bill is the current uphill battle to repeal it. This issue will not easily go away for the President and the Republicans will not make the battle easy. Health care still remains high in the public consciousness and continues to be a central point of anger and frustration. Obama’s legacy will be remembered, in part, for the health care bill that angered the majority of America.