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Monday, December 5, 2016

The decision to postpone the most crucial aspects of Obamacare until January of 2014 would have been remembered as a “Sarah Palin as your running mate”-quality strategic blunder — if the president had lost on Tuesday.

But now President Obama has guaranteed that his second term will transform America, putting a serious dent in the 26,000 Americans who die each year for lack of insurance and the incredibly wasteful way we rely on emergency rooms as primary care for millions.

Second terms are notoriously hard. Reagan’s was defined by Iran-Contra, Clinton’s by impeachment and Bush’s by Katrina.

No such nightmare seems to be imminent from this White House, but The New York Times’ Nate Silver could probably start a model to guess what irrelevant, trumped-up “Worse than Watergate!” scandal the GOP will try to impeach the president for. At best, the House GOP and the minority in the Senate will simply obstruct to construct talking points about how long it’s been since a budget passed while setting new records for repealing Obamacare.

Yet, the full implementation of Obamacare is just one way that Obama’s next term is destined to succeed.

The next few months will be one of the most difficult stretches of Obama’s presidency. He needs to make a large debt deal that will likely forestall the sequester spending cuts and ending of the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. If this “grand bargain” looks anything like the last “grand bargain” he almost signed, it will raise the eligibility age for Medicare and include some cuts to Social Security.

However, it’s likely that the president will get a much better deal than he would have in 2010.

Why? Now he can afford to play chicken. If the GOP won’t extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class without including the rich, he can let them all expire and watch the GOP try to blame the guy who never has to win another election.

Also, if the president does raise the eligibility age for Medicare, he will do so knowing that any American who can’t afford insurance will have it provided through the Affordable Care Act—a guarantee he simply couldn’t make in 2010.

Still, any deal will rightly disappoint many liberals—and if the president is successful in ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, it will disappoint even more Republicans.

After this fight, is there anything else the president will be able to achieve legislatively?

Yes. Comprehensive immigration reform.

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Copyright 2012 The National Memo