Health Reform: The Long Term Prognosis

Pundits' take on the Democrats' health care victory

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Monday, Mar 22, 2010  |  Updated 6:00 AM CDT
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Obama's Littlest Constituents

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President Obama speaks at the White House after the House of Representatives passed the health care reform legislation.

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Yes, Dems did.

After 219 House Dems capped a year of raucous debate Sunday night by sending a sweeping health care bill to President Obama’s desk for signature, here’s what the chattering class is saying about the implications and consequences of the party’s big win: 

  • Peter Beinart writes for The Daily Beast that Obama “found his voice and gave his party courage” by focusing the debate on individuals abused by the current system. He secured his place in history, although he never fully “overcame public suspicion” over the bill's ramifications.
     
  • Gerald F. Seib, writing for The Wall Street Journal, compares Obama’s overhaul to LBJ’s Great Society legislation of the mid-1960s, which created Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Head Start and civil rights breakthroughs. “The difference with LBJ’s Great Society legislation was that those programs were enacted in an era when Americans still tended to trust the government to get things done,” he writes. Not anymore. Last year, trust in government to handle domestic problems stood at 51%, down from 70% in 1972, he notes.
     
  • Over at The New York Times, David Sanger concludes that the main casualty from the health care wars will prove to be “the promise of a ‘postpartisan’ Washington in which rationality and calm discourse replaced partisan bickering.” “It will take years to know whether the Republicans’ worst predictions, or Mr. Obama’s vision of affordable near-universal care, will resemble reality,” he writes. “In the meantime, Mr. Obama can lay credible claim, for the first time in his presidency, that he proved willing to risk all to turn his convictions into legislation.”
     
  • Alex Isenstadt of Politico points out: “Some members of Congress will end up with primary challenges as a result. Others may have signed their own political death warrant.” Those at particular risk are Dems in GOP-friendly districts, pols who flip-flopped on their position throughout the process, and some Dems who voted no, he writes.
     
  • “Nil desperandum” — never despair,” write the editors of the conservative National Review Online. “Almost nothing about this legislation is free of dispute, but we are convinced that it will increase taxes, increase premiums, and increase debt, while decreasing economic growth, job growth, and the quality of health care,” they write. “The Democrats have abused the system, ignoring both the Founders’ design and public opinion. The first step toward undoing that abuse is to make them pay a political price for it.”

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