By a vote of 219-212, the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of sweeping healthcare reform, sending the bill to the President for his signature. As part of the wheeling and dealing necessary to pass the bill, the House also passed a series of alterations to the bill that they are "assured" the Senate will accede to (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). President Obama has earned a huge legislative triumph, delivering on one of his primary campaign promises and earning a good bit of the Holy Grail of Democratic domestic politics of the last 60 years.
A couple of thoughts on the morning after.
1. This is not now, nor was it ever, about healthcare. It was about fundamentally reshaping the role of government in our lives, an alteration of the relationship between the governed and the government. The Democratic Party has seen the centrality of government in delivering healthcare as the key element of their social program, and though we have moved in the direction of socialized medicine over the years, this is a "great leap" in that direction.
2. What is done is difficult to undo. Even if the Republicans capture both chambers in upcoming Congressional elections, they will not have veto-proof majorities, rendering any attempt to overturn key portions of this legislation ineffective, as President Obama will simply veto them. Republicans MUST capture the White House in order to undo this travesty. That almost all of the revenue producing portions of the bill (read: TAXES) start immediately, and all the spending portions (read: SPENDING) start after 2014 (a gimmick designed to keep the total price down), is a good thing for Republicans--there will be two full years of taxing imposed on the American people before they see any of the promised "benefits" of the legislation.
3. I've got to hand it to my Congressman (Frank Kratovil, D-MD 1). He voted against the legislation. I didn't think he had it in him. He's made Republican Andy Harris' job even more difficult in unhorsing him.
4. I cannot even think about the photos of the Speaker, the Majority Leader and the President basking in the glow of their accomplishment. It makes me queasy.
5. But make no mistake about it. This is a HUGE legislative victory for the President and the Democratic Party. They have DELIVERED. Elections matter, they did what they needed to do in 2006 and 2008, and now we have this monstrous instantiation of creeping socialism to remind us of it.
6. If the Republican Party can't use this "loss" as a spur to great victory in November 2010, it will be guilty of political malpractice. There is a lot here to run against, and there are a lot of Democrats whose vote last night ought to be considered a political suicide note.
7. This legislative session is dead. The President may try and raise immigration reform, green jobs, cap and trade, school reform---etc--but Washington is TIRED, and all thoughts will now turn to fund-raising and November elections.