James Morone, an author, lecturer and chairman of the Brown University political science department, said one of the most surprising things about the healthcare reform legislation signed into law this week is that it contradicted the old adage that “it takes a movement” to pass major social legislation.
Reform fears likely to ease, ACHE speaker says
“That's what's so surprising about this. The movement was on the other side,” said Morone, whose 7 a.m. time slot did not appear to dampen his animated delivery of one the early morning “hot topic” sessions at the American College of Healthcare Executives annual meeting in Chicago today.
Morone, whose lecture was titled “Health and Politics in the Oval Office,” said the stiff opposition that mounted to President Barack Obama's version of healthcare reform—a pattern that has repeated numerous times since 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt first tried it—shows the United States' peculiar feelings about government.
“Healthcare gets Americans screaming. Why? Simple. Americans don't like government, and healthcare is lots of government,” Morone said. “But there's something funny about the American fear of government, because it doesn't seem to apply after it goes into effect.”
He used the example of Medicare, which found stiff opposition in Congress before its creation and yet is one of the most widely popular programs in all of government today. He predicted the same would hold true for the healthcare reform legislation approved this week, which, if he's correct, could become a long-standing political liability for Republicans because not a single GOP member in either chamber voted to pass the bill.
And he was dismissive of the states' legal challenges that are already mounting to the reform law: “The states are not allowed to nullify federal law. We fought a Civil War over that,” he said. “I think the case is settled.”
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