Reform takes 'a giant step' forward
By Ben Pershing
In a saga that has included countless press conferences, high-profile speeches and one seeming climax after another, it may turn out that Sunday's 1 a.m. procedural vote in a snow-muffled Capitol was the most important milestone in the entire health-care debate.
"The Senate took a giant step toward passing its sweeping health care bill early today," the Los Angeles Times ledes, "uniting fractious Democrats after months of debate over President Obama's promise to reduce the ranks of the uninsured." The Washington Post calls it a "milestone victory," but observes: "A challenging closing round of negotiations, culminating in a series of compromises with moderates, threatened to overshadow the significance of what Democrats believed they were close to achieving: the most significant health-care legislation since Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965." Paul Krugman calls the impending passage "an awesome achievement. It's a seriously flawed bill, we'll spend years if not decades fixing it, but it's nonetheless a huge step forward."
The Hill's headline says Harry Reid was "vindicated" by the vote. But Time wonders: "Did the road to passage really have to be this rocky? The shape of the legislation -- and specifically, the fact that there were never going to be 60 votes in the Senate for a government-run public option -- has been clear for months. So why did Reid insist upon taking the public option to the Senate floor as part of the initial bill he introduced, making the fight even messier and at times seriously jeopardizing Dems' chances of passing such a landmark bill?" Time chalks it up to Reid's own reelection campaign, but there is another obvious reason: Dropping the public option without the Christmas deadline looming risked a more substantial liberal revolt. Instead, Reid got his 60 votes, even as the Left steamed and Russ Feingold openly blamed Obama for the loss of the public option.
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