The book America’s Bitter Pill focuses on the politics surrounding the drafting and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Author Steven Brill uses the ACA as a means to explore the bitter partisanship, special interest power, and political messaging that has become intertwined in our democracy and the battle for an equitable, efficient healthcare system.
It’s Even Worse Than It Looks presents an incisive investigation into the political gridlock that has choked Congressional action for the past few decades. Brookings Institution senior fellow Thomas Mann and American Enterprise Institute (and life-long Republican) scholar Norman Ornstein look at the history of high-stakes, confrontational politicians from Newt Gingrich to Mitch McConnell, and search for the sources of America’s increasing partisanship.
Please address the following questions with three pages allotted for each question (12 point, times new roman, 1 inch margins, double spaced) (so 9 pages total, 1 page for each section). Good answers will use specific examples from the book to support your argument. To ease grading, please structure your essays to match the formatting of the questions below. If you want to note specific passages or notes in the book you should use in text citations e.g. (Brill, p136) or (M&O, p95). The use of in text citations would be a good way to ensure that you do not plagiarize and will show that you are drawing examples from the required reading. You do not need to provide complete citations for the assigned books. If you choose to use any additional sources (which should not be necessary), please use APA citation format. You should work alone on this assignment, though you can discuss the books and questions with other students.
- Steven Brill describes that in 2007 – 2008, the Senate, while slow in deliberation, was genuinely interested in moving America forward and advancing solutions to America’s health care problems. However, not long after Obama’s election, health care became an extremely polarizing topic.
- A)Describe some of the policy ideas in health care reform that appeared to be bipartisan – that is, there ought to be supporters among both Republicans and Democrats.
- B)What changed during the course of the health care debate that led to the bill not getting a single Republican vote?
- C)Throughout Obama’s presidency, House Republicans voted to repeal or cripple the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) dozens of times. And in the 2012, 2014, and 2016 elections, Republicans made this a central promise of their campaigns. Yet once ascending to power in the House, Senate, and Presidency, they were unable to generate sufficient votes to do so. What explains this paradox?
2. Some journalists and scholars (across the political spectrum) have argued that U.S. democracy is on a precipice of totalitarianism, or, at best, “illiberal democracy”. These people point to the failure of democratic institutions; the collapse of institutional norms; the disregard for safeguards such as the electoral college; and the rise of a leader who has little regard for these democratic norms, institutions, and the Constitution. Mann and Ornstein, prior to Trump’s candidacy, highlighted collapsing institutional rules and norms, arguing that U.S. democracy had become dysfunctional.
- A)Mann and Ornstein describe a collapse of institutional rules and norms in Congress that have contributed to dysfunction in Congress. Discuss 3 rules and norms that have been disrupted over the past decade, and how these would lead to the rise of illiberal democracy.
- B)Why were these norms disrupted? What was the origin of disruption? Did this just happen? Or was it a calculated strategy? Explain.
- C)Do you think that American democracy is dying? To what extent does the 2016 election represent a temporary or permanent change in America’s political landscape? What evidence, from the Mann and Ornstein book, supports your perspective?
3) Ornstein and Mann argue that there are a number of major policy issues facing the US: Climate Change; long term debt issues and fiscal (tax) reform; and growing inequality. In America’s Bitter Pill, Brill describes Obama’s political strategy as a search for bipartisanship and compromise to solve a major policy issue (Health Care Coverage & Costs).
- A)Why did Obama attempt to pursue a strategy of bipartisanship and compromise? What were the consequences of this strategy?
- B)Considering the political climate that Mann and Ornstein describe, how might these efforts be viewed in the future? What needs to happen to achieve political compromise in the future?
- C)Discuss 3 major political lessons from the Health Care Reform experience that might help improve the prospects for addressing other major policy issues.
 See the following essays as examples: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/04/america-tyranny-donald-trump.html