It has proven to be about as contentious as whether to override the Articles of Confederation in 1788-1789 into a federal constitution, but laaaate last night H.R. 3590 by a vote of 219-212. The vote was exactly party partisan. President Obama responded with reference to the Constitution and to Franklin D. Roosevelt:
Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics. We pushed back on the undue influence of special interests. We didn’t give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges. We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.
Americans are out there are making sacrifices and struggling to build a better future for their kids. And over the last year as the damn-the-torpedoes outline of this legislation became more clear, millions lifted their voices, and many for the first time, asking us to slow down, not try to cram through more than the system could handle. … In this time of recession, they wanted us to focus on jobs, not more spending, not more government, certainly not more taxes. But what they see today frightens them. They’re frightened because they don’t know what comes next. They’re disgusted, because they see one political party closing out the other from what should be a national solution. And they are angry. They are angry that no matter how they engage in this debate, this body moves forward against their will. Shame on us. Shame on each and every one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your fellow countrymen.
It appears that the two things most everyone agrees with are (a) this will begin to shift a huge part of our economy (2) the political battle might only now have some clear parameters. Today’s editorial in the New York Times provides what we believe to be an above-the-fray comment on the passage. It points out that the whole point of the bill has always been to begin a process, not to end it. Indeed, that very point really should be enough to quiet the most antagonistic caricatures of the plan and the president’s support from the right. HR3590 will challenge us as Americans to discuss healthcare as a national concern, a national investment, and a national opportunity. It will not impose socialism, or rationed health care, or perpetually cloudy skies. Indeed, have been that the bill does not really impose anything to reform fundamentally the ‘system.’
How the near future plays out is everyone’s concern: How will passage of the bill inspire voters come November? What could get rolled back if Democrats lose the House and/or Senate? How will insurance companies continue to influence the process (And do not forget: The right-leaning Supreme Court recently allowed corporations to speak as if they were private citizens)? How impatient will supporters of reform become, knowing that nothing really ‘happens’ for 3-4 more years? We, like you, are keeping a close eye on things. But at least we are all keeping an eye on things, rather than screaming to hold the status-quo.
And who know? Maybe Rush Limbaugh really will move out of the U.S.?