Obama’s legacy at risk
November 22, 2013
President Obama has been feeling the stress coming from the failed Obamacare launch. Pundits have been calling for everything from completely killing the law to firing the head of the Department of Health and Human Services. Even Democrats are looking at rolling back the individual mandate for a year. But, considering Obamacare is seen as President Obama’s influential change, the larger question becomes how will this affect President Obama’s legacy?
Earlier this month, President Obama did interviews apologizing for his statement that Americans would be able to keep their coverage and their doctors under Obamacare. The apologies didn’t seem to help, as a CBS poll now shows his approval rating at 37 percent the lowest of his administration. This is a nine point drop from the previous month. This was also part of a poll which shows the approval of the Obamacare law dropped to 31 percent, the lowest it has been.
According to a Gallup side-by-side comparison of approval polling for George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the two are now even at the same place in their presidency. There might be another similarity. Both have experienced a marked dip below a 50 percent approval during the first year of their second term. Also, both experienced a major snafu during this time.
G.W. Bush’s administration was dealing with fallout from the mess created by the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina. President Obama’s numbers have drastically dropped since the roll out of Obamacare. George W. Bush’s numbers never recovered after Katrina. Will Obama’s recover after the initial issues with his signature legislation?
There may be hope for President Obama. As concurrent funding bills and stops for increasing the debt ceiling seem likely to continue for another three years, there are plenty of opportunities for the opposition to help his numbers. In fact, Obama’s approval rating was helped during the government shutdown. If Obama can capitalize on Republicans’ mistakes, it will help in the long run with his place in history.
The reality at the moment though is that the debacle is far from over. Congress has started hearings on the failures. These failures continue to be placed in front of the American people from the website problems, to people losing their coverage, and even success stories going horribly wrong. Even on Tuesday, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, had the website go down during a stop at a Miami nursing home.
The reality is unless the trend changes for President Obama, this will open up a “change” candidate from the Republican side in 2016, just like it did after George W. Bush’s presidency in 2008.
However, for Obama, the trend of being an unpopular president seems to fade over time. In the long run, it seems President Obama will be sitting okay in history.