George Graham

Health Care Reform Law was Born of “Compromise”

The government shutdown and debt ceiling brawl have taught a lot of people a lot of lessons. And I bet President Obama is among them.

For much of his presidency, he has tried to walk the talk he gave at the 2004 Democratic Party Convention – the one about “no blue states and no red states.”

He tried to be “president of all Americans, not just Democrats.”

Unfortunately, a lot of Americans refused to accept a black man as their President. Especially this “uppity” guy with his Harvard education, tailored suits and arugula salads.

To achieve the agenda he dreamed of, Barack Obama would’ve had to do it with the support of his base, not through “compromise” with the enemy.

He knows that now, I’m sure.

But he didn’t know it when he crafted the Affordable Care Act. He tried to win over Republicans (and those late, unlamented Blue Dog Democrats) by “giving a little to get a little.” America is reaping the harvest from that hybrid crop. And even such sympathetic pundits as the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein are giving the new law bad reviews.

There’s an old saying that “a camel is a horse created by a committee,” and the new law is a camel if ever there was one. It has a full quota of humps.

I hope the law’s benefits – and there are many – will persuade the public to overlook its flaws and negotiate the humps. But I can’t help wishing the President had simply expanded Medicare to include Americans of all ages, instead of churning out thousands of pages designed to try and please everyone involved, from Big Pharma and the health insurers to the Republicans in Congress.

I know, I know, he probably didn’t have the votes for a single-payer system. To get any kind of health care reform, he had to go with something the Republicans had cooked up in Massachusetts. At least that’s what the pundits said at the time. But if he thought he would get the support of Republican opponents by adopting their camel, instead of creating an easier-to-ride horse, he has been proven wrong. Republicans don’t want anything he has to offer – even if they wanted it before.

Of course I admire the President for achieving health care reform when previous Democratic administrations couldn’t. But I hope the fight isn’t over. I hope Democrats will continue to work toward a single-payer health insurance system operated by the federal goverment.

In the meantime, we’ve got Obamacare, and I hope and pray it doesn’t get sabotaged out of existence.

After all,  a camel may not be as easy to ride as a horse, but it will get you where you’re going – once you get used to it.

Click here for the 2004 speech.

Click here for Ezra Klein’s critique.


About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for