21 March 2010

The House Votes on Health Care

The House of Representatives has been called into session and the vote should take place sometime this afternoon (PT). It looks like the Democrats have the votes to pass it, and word is President Obama will sign the bill at the White House this evening.

My hopes are high...very high...yet guarded at the same time.

While we wait for the outcome, a couple of essays for your Sunday:

Josh Marshall weighs the political landscape for the Democrats if health care legislation passes:
If the bill passes, and should the worse befall the Dems and they wake up on November 3rd having lost both houses of Congress, they can look back on all the work in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 cycles and say, it wasn't wasted and it wasn't for nothing. This bill will be by far the most significant piece of social legislation in almost 50 years and will achieve, albeit imperfectly, something progressives have been trying to achieve for going on a century. If the Dems lose their majorities in November, they'll be able to say: we worked this hard, we built these majorities, and this is what we did with it.

...But I suspect the effect for the Democrats of actual passing this legislation will be considerably more positive than people realize.
Ron Brownstein discusses the President's approach to this issue and how, despite the disappointment of progressives, passage of a bill will help chart a new course for the United States:
Win or lose, Obama has pursued health care reform as tenaciously as any president has pursued any domestic initiative in decades. Health care has now been his presidency's central domestic focus for a full year. That's about as long as it took to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, originally introduced by John F. Kennedy and driven home by Lyndon Johnson. Rarely since World War II has a president devoted so much time, at so much political cost, to shouldering a single priority through Congress. It's reasonable to debate whether Obama should have invested so heavily in health care. But it's difficult to quibble with Emanuel's assessment that once the president placed that bet, "He has shown fortitude, stamina, and strength."

The health care struggle suggests that Obama views changing that trajectory [of the nation] as the ultimate measure of a presidency's success. His aim is to establish a long-term political direction - one centered on a more activist government that shapes and polices the market to strengthen the foundation for sustainable, broadly shared growth. Everything else - the legislative tactics, even most individual policies - is negotiable. He wants to chart the course for the supertanker, not to steer it around each wave or decide which crates are loaded into its hull.