By: Dina Abdurahman, ’13
As the third week of September came to an end, USA Today wrapped up the week with articles discussing the effects of the controversial health care law on Medicare savings, the continued verbal sparring of the presidential campaigners, and the role of former Virginia congressman Virgil Goode’s continuing presidential bid as a candidate for the Constitution Party. In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, I’d like to give you a rundown of each of these articles and explain why they are interesting.
The health care article by Kelly Kennedy chronicles how the 2010 health care law has allowed Medicare beneficiaries to save a total of $4.5 billion on prescription drugs since January 2011. The director of the Center for Medicare, Jon Blum, stated beneficiaries have seen average total savings of $641, and this number will continue to grow as the coverage gap (doughnut hole) is fully closed. On the other hand, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 6 million people – 2 million more than originally estimated in 2010 – will pay an average of $1,200 in penalty fees for not purchasing insurance as mandated by law beginning in 2014. Erin Shields Britt, HHS spokeswoman, announced that 98% of Americans would be unaffected by the penalty because it only affects people who can afford health care but choose not to buy it. The aim of the law is to eliminate the $2,930 doughnut hole by 2020. The government has been working with pharmaceutical companies participating in Medicare to reduce premium drug prices by 50% and generic drug prices by 14% in order to pass on those discounts to seniors without transferring the costs of these discounts to other consumers. Of course, the announcement of these savings comes at a crucial time for Obama. President Obama currently holds
a six point lead over Romney in voters’ trust to handle Medicare and health care challenges, and he could use these results to bolster support for health care reform and for his campaign in general. Seniors who have historically been voting for republican presidential candidates may consider Obama if the medical savings trend keeps up. However, Obama should also address the rest of the population with his healthcare plans so that it does not appear he is neglecting them.
In Florida last week, President Obama acknowledged that the immigration reform planned for his first term did not pan out, blaming the Republicans’ unwillingness to work with him to pass the legislation. He admitted that he did not fulfill his promise to Florida’s Latino voters, and to the nation’s Hispanic voters at large, but said that he plans to make it his priority should he be elected for a second term at the White House. Obama also commented on his failure at the White House, stating that Washington cannot be changed from inside but can only be changed from the outside. Romney seized on this point to claim that Obama is abandoning the central premise of his presidency, that change is possible. In response, the Obama campaign pointed out that this idea is consistent with the President’s statements that change comes from the American people. This article was interesting as it gave a glimpse of the leadership styles of the two candidates. It seems that Romney is ready to take over control and make executive decisions for the American people while Obama’s rhetoric emphasizes sharing responsibilities with the citizens as well as key politicians. I believe that Obama’s stance here makes him appear weak. At a time when the country is struggling with many issues such as immigration and the economy, a decisive president is needed. Yet Obama was making excuses for his failure and was promising the same things he did back in 2008, which makes me wonder how it will be any different should he be reelected.
Turning now to the final article, former Virginia representative Virgil Goode still stands by his decision to run on the Constitution party’s ticket despite receiving several calls from Republicans who are worried that he will steal crucial votes from Governor Romney. Goode believes that he offers voters a unique perspective on issues, an alternative to Romney or President Obama, and believes that he can attract voters on Election Day who were not planning to vote at all. Goode got 2% of the Virginia vote as shown in the recent Washington Post. This seemed to be a worrisome development for Romney earlier in September when polls showed him neck to neck with President Obama in the state. However, those margins have widened since, with Obama shooting up by 4 more percent, making Goode’s rivalry less relevant to Romney’s team. Although the Romney team states that it is unconcerned with Goode, the former Virginia Congressman, who served as both a Democrat and a Republican after switching parties and beginning reelected, believes that the discouraging calls from other Republicans were prodded by Romney’s campaign. The fact that Goode is not backing up Romney may hurt Romney’s chances of closing the gap on Obama, diminishing his chances of winning the election. The division within the party overall increases the likelihood of Republicans losing Virginia to Obama just as they did back in 2008. I believe Goode’s presence is redundant since he does not offer significantly different perspective on issues compared to Romney, despite his claims to the contrary. Romney has received a lot of media attention which at times has portrayed him in a negative light. Since Goode has not been under constant media scrutiny, people may relate to him more. Thus if Goode is to take away votes from Romney, I highly doubt it will be due to his visions and goals for America but his personality and characterization.
Overall, the articles reviewed do not consistently indicate if one candidate will prevail over the other during this election. If anything, they show how this election can really go either way and how it is still hard to predict who will be the winner come November.