The recent stunning defeat of Democrat Martha Coakley by a previously unknown Republican state senator for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts is a wonderful gift to the Obama administration.
Coakley’s defeat gives the administration a much-needed wakeup call from the country in general. The message is that there is very little support in the country for much of what the administration has done so far, including: the health care bill, coddling the bankers who caused the recession, failure to provide an effective jobs program, failure to help people with mortgage problems stay in their homes.
Americans have been giving the administration poor marks for some time, but the administration has been ignoring what America thinks of what they are doing. The enormous popularity that surrounded the new Obama administration has soured greatly in less than a year.
Speaking just about health care, the administration may have become overly focused on the goal of “getting a bill” to avoid the appearance of a political defeat on a major issue (“Obama’s Waterloo”). But the current health care bill is widely disliked and may do more harm than good. It should perhaps be scrapped by being put on indefinite hold.
In place of that unpopular and possibly quite flawed bill, three simple, practical things could be done. Doing them would keep faith with the vast majority of Americans who understand the health care system is broken but strongly dislike the current bill.
1. Reauthorize the importation of safe, less expensive, high-quality pharmaceutical drugs from good provider nations, such as Canada.
2. Empower Medicare to negotiate lower prices for drugs with the pharmaceutical companies.
3. Remove the restriction that prevents anti-trust laws from being applied to health insurance companies.
These three simple initiatives, coming from the President, done one after another, could give the administration greater public support and trust. They would be true health care reform, but not done in a single, large bill. It might be difficult for any Congressperson to explain to their constituents why they did not support each measure.
So two cheers for Martha Coakley for helping us all to see the great unpopularity of the administration’s current approaches in health care, banking reform, job creation, helping families stay in their homes, and other areas. One main value of such a wakeup call is that it has been given electorally in January, rather than by some not much believed polling data in September or October 2010.