A Comparative Study: The White House Politics of Clinton & Obama Health Care Reform

Hey guys!

This spring, when I was interviewing for one of my summer internships, my future boss asked to prepare a memo on the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on young people. To be perfectly honest, at the time, all I knew was that I could stay on my parents’ insurance plan until the age of 26—one of the few features of the new health care law that the Obama administration effectively advertised. As I began my research, however, I quickly realized how expansive and far-reaching the ACA really is, and consequently how little I understood.

Determined to learn more about the largest overhaul of the American health care system in fifty years, I decided to use this fellowship to study the politics behind not only the ACA, but also President Clinton’s health care package. Specifically, I am going to focus on the executive-legislative relations of each White House and question how each president used his senior staff and other White House staff to propose, communicate, negotiate, and secure votes for his respective health care package. Through my research, I hope to understand what differences there were between how President Obama and President Clinton used their respective White House staffs in advancing their respective health care plans, and how the differences, if any, contributed to the character of the final bills on which Congress voted and to the final bills’ ultimate fate.

One potential obstacle in my research project is my obligation to control for the differences in political climate during the Clinton and Obama administrations. Although 1993 and 2009 both enjoyed Democratic executive and legislative branches, there were several other differences, both intrinsic and extrinsic to the respective health care efforts, that I will need to consider.

Comments are always welcome. Excited to see you all in a few weeks!

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