At the beginning of the Obama administration when Democrats controlled both the legislative and executive branches — like the Republicans do now — their failure to enact a new law that the president wanted helped produce a bad outcome for them in the midterm elections.
While not the only reason for their historic losses that handed the House of Representatives back to the Republicans, it sure didn’t help.
President Obama had campaigned on the promise to take bold action to regulate human activity so as to prevent the warming of the planet, which he believed would threaten civilization.
In an address to the United Nations in September 2009, he declared the danger of climate change could not be denied.
Never miss a local story.
To prepare for new law he anticipated Congress would send up to him, he created a new layer of oversight combining the agencies of energy and environment to work with his own chairman of environmental quality to coordinate the development of sweeping new rules and regulations.
Democrat leaders in the House of Representatives began crafting the new law to deal with climate change.
It started with a 500-page bill and immediately ran into resistance from Democrats representing states where economic interests were threatened.
By the time all those concerns were addressed, the legislation had bulked up to triple its original size. Moreover, EPA officials testified it would do basically nothing to reduce global warming.
It passed the House with a narrow seven-vote margin and was sent on the Senate.
There it was dead on arrival, and no new law dealing specifically with climate change was ever adopted.
An essential issue the president had campaigned on had failed to find the support it needed in the Democrat-controlled Congress.
Then came the 2010 elections resulting in the highest losses of a party in the House since 1938 and ushering in the Republican takeover that continues there today.
Analysts say such an outcome was because of a number of factors that had turned voters away, but the inability of the party in power to manage issues crucial to the president and the voters who elected him had not gone unnoticed.
When you have the winning candidate for president and equally successful congressional candidates promising to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, voters clearly want Congress to put new health insurance legislation on the president’s desk.
Just prior to the inauguration, Rasmussen Reports found only 12 percent of voters wanting to leave Obamacare as it is and 74 percent expecting “significant changes” to President Obama’s signature achievement.
Speaker Paul Ryan has produced such a plan to comply with those wishes, and it has won endorsement at the White House.
Republicans are forewarned. Both the president and the speaker of the House have predicted a “bloodbath” for Republicans if the squabbling over the terms of the replacement of Obamacare doesn’t get quickly resolved.
Conceivably the differences among lawmakers in both houses of Congress will ultimately be reconciled, with the result being the desired overhaul of the current law.
The 2018 campaign is already underway.
Winners and losers may be determined by the outcome of this scrimmage over how health insurance will meet the needs of the American people.
The power structure in Washington at any time is always temporary.
Just how long it lasts depends on how satisfied voters are with the way things are going.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.