David Gergen, who has worked for four presidents — three Republicans and one Democrat — sees tragedy in the triumphs of both Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama.
Addressing a filled ballroom at this week’s Envestnet Advisor Summit, Gergen explained, “President Obama triumphed when Congress passed health care reform after seven other presidents and tried and failed,” but the very narrow victory in the Senate (by one vote) and House (by five votes) meant that health care became a political football, and it remains that today, said Gergen.
In Thursday’s narrow victory in the House to repeal and replace Obamacare, “Trump got zero Democratic votes,” said Gergen. “The tragedy is that on the big issues of our time we can’t seem to come together. We have lost something in our politics that represented progress.”
In contrast, he noted that the biggest domestic legislation since Franklin D. Roosevelt, including Social Security, Medicare and the Civil Rights Act, passed with supermajorities in both houses of Congress, and included Republican votes.
(Related on ThinkAdvisor: House Narrowly Passes ACA Change Bill)
As it stands, said Gergen, the Senate will “most likely” pass its own Obamacare repeal and replacement bill, leaving open the question about whether the most conservative members of the House, who defeated the first repeal and replace bill, will support it.,
“It will take the Senate weeks to reconsider the bill, then it goes back to the House, [continuing] a long arduous journey with uncertain outcomes,” said Gergen.
He suggested that people watch how the public responds to passage of the health care bill. “Some polls show that Obamacare is more popular than plans to repeal and replace it,” said Gergen.
Especially controversial is a provision that lets states essentially allow insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions by putting them in a high-risk pool. About one-quarter to one-half of adults in the U.S. have one, said Gergen.