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Health reform victory for Obama: the pundits over-react again

A healthcare reform bill has finally passed, just barely. After a last-minute deal to secure the anti-abortion Democrats, the House passed the health bill by just three votes more than necessary. 

Just a day or so ago, many pundits presented Obama's presidency as on the rocks. He is not only redeemed by the Democrats' victory, but now some are predicting this legislation will ensure he will be considered one of the great presidents of all time. Jonathan Chait writes in the New Republic:

Let me offer a ludicrously premature opinion: Barack Obama has sealed his reputation as a president of great historical import. We don't know what will follow in his presidency, and it's quite possible that some future event--a war, a scandal--will define his presidency. But we do know that he has put his imprint on the structure of American government in a way that no Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson has.

I will have an article in spiked shortly that discusses the implications. In the meantime, all I will say is that, against the consensus view that is emerging, I don't think the bill is historic, nor - more importantly - do I think it addresses the fundamental problems with the American healthcare system. And as Obama started to fall in the polls last year, many pundits started to call him a Jimmy Carter repeat. But back in July 2009, I wrote:

And while many critics write him off and assume he is on a certain road to ruin, there are plausible, perhaps likely, scenarios that would find Obama gaining the upper hand in the near future. For instance, the Democrats have an impenetrable majority in both Houses, and the differences between the conservative ‘blue dog’ Democrats and liberal Democrats with regard to healthcare are not that great. They should be able to pass some form of healthcare legislation, and when they do, it is likely to be promoted as an historic achievement on a par with the New Deal or Great Society, even though the reforms currently on the table will do little more than tinker with the current system.

The pundits over-reacted then, and I think they are over-reacting again today.

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