Thursday, December 24, 2009

60-39

The Senate passed the healthcare bill.

The Senate voted Thursday to reinvent the nation’s health care system, passing a bill to guarantee access to health insurance for tens of millions of Americans and to rein in health costs as proposed by President Obama.

The 60-to-39 party-line vote, on the 25th straight day of debate on the legislation, brings Democrats a step closer to a goal they have pursued for decades. It clears the way for negotiations with the House, which passed a broadly similar bill last month by a vote of 220 to 215.

If the two chambers can strike a deal, as seems likely, the resulting product would vastly expand the role and responsibilities of the federal government. It would, as lawmakers said repeatedly in the debate, touch the lives of nearly all Americans.

The only question that remains is how far the opponents of the bill — on both sides — and the special interests — on both sides — will go to try to shape the final piece of sausage that comes out of the House-Senate conference. Based on what we’ve seen so far, there will be death panels, dead grannies, and socialistic grand guignol TV commercials and even more fiction from Sarah Palin’s Facebook pages that would get P.T. Barnum to get out of the business. And in the logic that always makes sense after you’ve had too much eggnog, the pundits and spinners are already saying that the passage of this bill, which probably ranks up there with the passage of Social Security and Medicare, is really bad news for President Obama and the Democrats. Sic semper meshuggeneh

Now the fun begins.