Obama Signs Historic Health Reforms Surrounded By Supporters, Lawmakers
In front of packed crowd of cheering, enthusiastic lawmakers and others, President Barack Obama signed the Senate health care bill into law yesterday.
The New York Times calls the law the "most expansive social legislation enacted in decades" and said Obama remarked that the law "enshrines 'the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.'"
The audience "interrupted [Mr. Obama] repeatedly with cheers, applause and standing ovations. 'The bill I'm signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see,' Mr. Obama said, adding, 'Today we are affirming that essential truth, a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself, that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations.' Moments later, the president sat down at a table and affixed his left-handed, curlicue signature ... to the measure, using 20 pens that he intended to pass out as mementos to lawmakers, aides and a handful of others, including Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy" (Stolberg and Pear, 3/23).
McClatchy: The bill signed into law Tuesday, which was "passed Dec. 24 by the Senate and Sunday by the House of Representatives, is designed to provide health insurance by 2019 to 32 million Americans who lack it now, institute new federal regulation of health insurance companies - including a mandate that they insure everyone regardless of prior medical problems - and curb costs." Meanwhile, the Senate could vote on the "fixes" bill as soon as Thursday. "The combined plan would cost an estimated $938 billion over 10 years. Financed by tax increases and cuts in Medicare, it would reduce the federal budget deficit by $143 billion over the decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office" (Thomma and Lightman, 3/23).
Los Angeles Times: Obama "spoke from a lectern in the East Room, surrounded by congressional Democrats and guests who played parts in the law's adoption. And Obama gave a wide-swinging handshake to Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), a target of presidential arm-twisting who switched his vote from no to yes in the final days." By signing the measure into law, "Obama achieved something that had eluded presidents since Theodore Roosevelt in the first decade of the 20th century - winning congressional approval of a wide-ranging overhaul of healthcare" (Nicholas and Parsons, 3/24).
The Washington Post: "Rich with symbolism and ceremony, the White House event provided clues about how the administration plans to sell the measure to a skeptical public: as a moral necessity of historic proportion. Obama told his audience of allies that 'we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations.' But his central challenge remains convincing an anxious nation that it can afford to help all, even at a time of rising debt, high unemployment and two distant wars."
"His own party split over the scope and cost of the legislation, and the messy process revived a traditional distrust between the House and the Senate, which must still approve a set of House amendments. But Obama brought them all into one room, where they snapped photographs of one another in front of the podium and touched the desk where the president signed the thick bill. Political enemies became friends again" (Wilson, 3/24).email subscription.