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Transition 2012

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Views from Abroad: Germany Says USA Now More European

by Toni Johnson
July 1, 2012

Soccer fans in Berlin June 22, 2012 (Tobias Schwarz/Courtesy Reuters)


On this week’s Views, we head again to Germany where Der Spiegel offers a roundup of German media views on last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, some which relate directly to the U.S. campaign.

The magazine notes many Europeans struggle with the U.S. debate over healthcare:

German healthcare experts have long had difficulty understanding the debate in the United States because mandatory healthcare insurance has been required for decades in Germany, just as it is in many other European countries. People living in Germany cannot be excluded from health insurance because of previous conditions and, for those who are covered under the public-private national healthcare scheme, their premiums are based on how much income they earn.

Now for some excerpts of their roundup. We begin with Süddeutsche Zeitung, which writes:

In terms of domestic policy, Obama sacrificed far too much for his healthcare plan. He had to give up climate protection because he ran out of strength after the epic battle for healthcare. Desperately needed new rules on immigration haven’t moved a step forward. And although he did reform the financial market, that reform remains far behind expectations. If it weren’t for the fact that Obama is the first black man in the White House, his term in office wouldn’t be all that historically significant. Now he at least has healthcare to show, but it’s something his own people didn’t even want. (If elected, however), Mitt Romney would turn the dividing lines in America’s political and social policies into deep canyons. The rich would become even richer and the middle class and the poor, who have already lost ground since the Bush years, would continue to lose. On the foreign policy front Romney’s cookie-cutter sayings don’t bode well. You have to hope that the American people will show Obama some mercy and give him the benefit of the doubt, as the Supreme Court has done.

Next we hear from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

On the one hand Obama is now going into the presidential election with an unambiguous victory; but he hasn’t won yet. On the other hand, his Republican challenger Mitt Romney will pull out all the stops. There’s nothing that mobilizes your own side more than a clear picture of the enemy. This enemy is a social state that has been expanded by Obama that (the Republicans) claim robs the people financially and overextends its boundaries. Romney will move into the election battle with arguments that if he is president and has a majority in Congress to back him, he’ll overturn ‘Obamacare’. What has been legally clarified now becomes ammunition for the campaign.

Last we have a take from Die Welt:

This health reform package that even Bill Clinton once failed at obtaining, will go down in the history books as a historical achievement — even though it’s unclear how Americans, who already have the most expensive healthcare system in the world — will pay for the extra costs. Obama’s Republican challenger Romney wants to base his campaign on getting Americans to give him a political mandate to get rid of (Obama’s requirement of) mandatory health insurance. But even if he wins the race and also secures a majority in both houses of Congress, that wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of ‘Obamacare’. Europe has a lot of experience with this: Once the state has begun providing social benefits, few politicians dare to then take them away from the people, even if there is no way of paying for them. With this reform America has without a doubt become more European. Whether or not that is good for the country remains to be seen.

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