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Indiana University

IU expert: Partisan strategy worked for health care, but would be dangerous in future

March 22, 2010
Bloomington, Indiana --

John Graham, dean of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, is available to discuss President Obama's victory on historic health care reform.

"While the vote is good news for President Obama in the near-term, it would be dangerous to rely on a purely partisan strategy in the future," Graham said. "Defections by some Democrats may be more likely on issues such as immigration. In addition, the Democratic margins in Congress could diminish in 2010 and 2012."

John D. GrahamGraham, who served under George W. Bush as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, is the author of the recently released book Bush on the Home Front, which examines the legislative successes and failures of Bush's often-overlooked domestic policies.

According to Graham, Bush was most effective when he recognized his tenuous political standing, analyzed the competing interests of Congress, and chose policy initiatives with a broad appeal among Republicans and at least some support among key Democrats in the Senate. "President Obama cannot count on any cooperation from Republican leaders in Congress," Graham said. "But, if he chooses his priorities carefully, he should be able to succeed on future legislation the same way Bush often did -- by attracting a handful of supportive senators from the opposing party."

Looking forward, he said, President Obama should consider framing his agenda around issues both sides find important. "He will then be able to find the cross-over votes he so desperately needs. His lack of success in that area cannot be chalked up to 'the party of no.' Instead, President Obama needs to examine more closely how he orchestrates the design of his legislative agenda from the outset."

Graham can be reached at 812-855-1432, or by e-mail at: grahamjd@indiana.edu.


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