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What is the Political Cost of the Healthcare Legislation?

There was an obvious divide between the Democratic and Republican parties over the recent healthcare legislation, as it passed the House without a single Republican vote in favor of the bill. The question is what happens now since President Obama and the Democrats in Congress spent so much political capital to get healthcare passed. KSMU’s Adam Murphy reports.

There is speculation as to what effect this partisan divide over healthcare will have on other legislation and the upcoming election season. Dr. Joel Paddock and Dr. Brian Calfano are both with the political science department at Missouri State University.

Both professors agree that, with this legislation, President Obama’s supporters and critics have been mobilized which may affect what Congress does next. Paddock says the administration plans to address financial reform, immigration, and energy and global warming, but the President may have to rely solely on Democratic votes to pass these bills.

“My guess will be they’re not going to get too many Republicans on board for that legislation. It will look a lot like the healthcare reform in a sense that it will be largely Democrats aligned against Republicans,” said Paddock.

Dr. Calfano says any legislation on energy or global warming may suffer because of the partisan divide, so he expects Congress will most likely take up financial reform.

“There’s going to have to be some type of attempt to address the economy by members of Congress. So any type of complete stalemate where the Republicans shut down as much of the operation up there as possible, I don’t think is realistic, especially in an election year. So I think you’re going to find both parties finding a way to come together to get work done because it benefits their reelection interests regardless of the party,” said Calfano.

The aftermath of the healthcare legislation may also affect Congressional elections. Paddock says some Democratic congressional seats will be vulnerable due to the passage of healthcare legislation and the slow recovery of the economy.

But the fallout over healthcare may not have a significant impact on the 2012 presidential election. Both professors agree that President Obama’s success will be determined more by the fate of the economy.

“I think, long-term, President Obama’s fortunes are tied in more with performance of the economy than anything else, any single policy issue,” said Paddock.

“Unless the economy shows some type of sign of moving ahead, I don’t know if Obama really has a good handle on reelection at this point,” said Calfano.

With Congress on spring recess next week, we’ll have to wait to see how the political cost of getting healthcare passed will actually affect President Ob ama and the Democrats.

For KSMU News, I’m Adam Murphy.