Sunday, 21 March 2010

Obama's healthcare victory: what happens next?

With a few hours to go, it has become clear today that the US healthcare Bill does have the votes to pass.

The New York Times is liveblogging the House of Representatives vote, and has a long review article on the turbulent politics of the bill over the last year. Jonathan Cohn's The Treatment blog at The New Republic offers an in-depth interrogation of the politics of reform.

Several leading US bloggers have moved on to the political fallout. Here is a selection of the best post-match analysis, just ahead of the final whistle.

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum, who has argued against the US right, says that the Republicans should blame themselves for their most important legislative defeat since the 1960s.

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible.

Frum fears his party's lack of moderation, but opposes the substance of the final Bill. By contrast, EJ Dionne suggests the Bill is a moderate, centrist measure which delivers on several principles argued by moderate Republicans for years.


The bill's passage is likely to see much hyperbole about socialised medicine and the death of liberty in America. Ezra Klein, on the Washington Post blog, has archive footage of Ronald Reagan (back in 1961) declaring that Medicare would be the death of American freedom.

People do not "celebrate" the freedom to not be able to afford lifesaving medical care. They don't want the freedom to weigh whether to pay rent or take their feverish child to the emergency room ... When faced with the passage of programs that would deliver people from these awful circumstances, the Republicans adopt a very narrow and cruel definition of the word "freedom."

But when faced with the existence of programs like Medicare, and the recognition that their constituents depend on those programs to live lives free of unnecessary fear and illness, they abandon their earlier beliefs, forget their dire warnings and, when convenient, defend these government protections aggressively. There's nothing much to be done about that. It is, after all, a free country. But Americans should feel free to ignore these discredited hysterics.


Jonathan Bernstein predicts the Republicans' next move:

Now that the bill will pass ... the question becomes: what will the GOP run on this fall? ... Death panels and rationing and socialism and the rest? I don't think so.

Here's what they will do: Republicans will now run against the current health care system. Just as they blamed Barack Obama for every job lost in February and March 2009, they're now going to blame Democrats for every insurance rate increase, every medical error, every complex insurance form, and basically anything that goes wrong with medical care or medical insurance, beginning March 22, 2010 ... Bad things happen in health care all the time; I'll be very, very surprised if we don't hear conservatives blaming one of those bad things on the brand-new law some time before Easter.

Meanwhile, ThinkProgress is pretty sceptical about Bill Kristol's prediction that the bulk of the Bill will be repealed by 2013, noting that the right-wing commentator has a pretty mixed track record with a crystal ball.

Dana Milbank, in the Washington Post, suggests a parallel with the failed Republican attempt to run on the repeal of social security in 1936. ilbank suggests that "it's doubtful that opposition to the measure will ever again be as high as it is now".

Andrew Sullivan, writing in his Sunday Times column, suggests victory will help the Obama presidency abroad.

Imagine the narrative shift if this bill is passed. Obama will not have imposed this monstrosity on the country from on high; he will have ground it through the bloggers, and the pundits will declare a resurrection. The narrative will be about his persistence and his grit, rather than his near-divinity and his authority. And suddenly it will appear — lo! — as if this lone figure has not just rescued the US economy from the abyss, but also passed the biggest piece of social legislation in decades.

More at Sullivan's Daily Dish blog.


bypie6 said...

You Republican freaks and "No,No,Nays" at any cost have brought about the most divided people ever since anyone can remember.
Your instigating and riviving the vile racism throughout this debate has exposed yourselves for what you really will do at any cost to the general welfare of humanity.
No one shall forget you instigators of viciousness.

Robert said...

Not my country, it can do as it likes, but any country that does not look after the sick the poor and the disabled , well it's not really educated is it. bit like new labour in a way

International Commentarian Solidarity said...

The good thing about any kind of progress on American healthcare expansion, is that it shifts the terms of debate, away from a defeatism and the tolerance of inequality and selfishness, towards a more social and forward looking debate.

Sunder Katwala said...

yes, I am in solidarity with that last point