Opinion: Broken Promises (Part 1)

This article is part of a three-part series preceding the 2012 Presidential Election.  Each article focuses on a particular promise Barack Obama made as a candidate in 2008 which has now been broken.

The 2012 Presidential election is now less than six weeks away, and considering such a tremendously important moment in the future of America, I will be writing three articles which highlight some of President Obama’s most significant broken promises.

This first installment will focus on the most controversial aspect of Obama’s presidency:  healthcare reform.  “Obamacare” was largely opposed at the time of its passage and has since become even more unpopular.  I will not be taking time here to analyze the various components of the bill (neither congress nor I have yet had enough time to read it all), but instead I will be discussing the various promises made regarding its passage and general structure.

Various times preceding the 2008 election and during Obama’s pre-healthcare reform presidency, Obama claimed the desire for a bipartisan healthcare bill.  Despite a bipartisan healthcare reform summit, the result was quite the opposite.  The only bipartisan support was in opposition to the bill; all Republicans and many Democrats voted against the bill.  (Many may argue that this was a political move by Republicans and had nothing to do with whether the bill was good or not.  However, if the bill were a good solution for the country, Republicans would have been wise to support it, as it would have gained them favor from their constituency.  Instead, the Democrats lost favor with their constituency for supporting the partisan bill, and thus suffered a crushing defeat in 2010).

As part of Obama’s plan for a bipartisan healthcare bill, he promised he would not pursue a “fifty plus one strategy”.  Yet this is another broken promise.  After passing a reform bill in the Senate using reconciliation (which was denounced by the Democratic creator of process), the law was crammed through the House of Representatives by a margin of only 7 votes.  Given the 435 members of the House, 7 votes is close enough to constitute “fifty plus one.”  The strict partisanship of the pending vote became exceptionally clear when Nancy Pelosi refused to allow time for Republicans to read the full bill prior to the final vote.

While the Democratic party should have denounced the oligarchical passage of Obamacare as hypocritical to their own party’s name, it is the structure of the law which is even more infuriating, specifically for one point.  In 2008, Obama promised to enact healthcare reform without increasing taxes on households earning less than $250,000.  Yet the most criticized portion of the bill–the individual “mandate”–has now been decreed by Chief Justice John Roberts to be a tax.  This blatantly contradicts his promise.  Furthermore, as many as 12 taxes are included with the health care law, which in fact means Obama violated two campaign promises simultaneously; he also promised to cut taxes as President.

Furthermore, Obama also promised that his health care law would not increase the deficit (debt-related promises will be discussed in a coming article).  However, studies have shown Obamacare will instead add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit, not to mention the $716 billion it takes from Medicare to hide the massive costs of the law.  Since Obama himself admitted to the high cost of his law, this is one point he won’t be able to run from.

Of course, this is not the only promise Obama has broken as President, but it’s one of the most significant.  Both supporters and opposers of Obamacare should be disgusted by the promises he violated to pass it.  That makes it a failure, not an achievement.

Instead, I think I’ll be supporting Paul Ryan’s first step to an alternative.

Photo by Matt Ortega

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