Op-Ed Retread: Congress Finally Voted (Again) on Health Care

Last night, the House of Representatives passed “health-care reform,” or “Obamacare,” or “a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health system,” with 219 votes for the measure and 212 against.

Many call this a victory for Democrats, but the real winners in this epic fight are, of course, journalists. The Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz, for one, is relieved on behalf of all the weary scribes who’ve spent more than a year covering this economically convoluted, morally complex and divisive legislation.

We’re not convinced that the media is off the hook just yet. With that in mind, here’s a look at what the major editorial boards have to say about H.R.3590: On Motion to Concur in Senate Amendments Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The New York Times says “Hooray!,” and has some unkind words for the Republican Party:

Republican leaders, who see opportunities to gain seats in the elections, have made clear that they will continue to peddle fictions about a government takeover of the health care system and about costs too high to bear. Mr. Obama took too long to get into the fight, but came on strong in the end and will have to keep pushing back so all Americans understand the benefits of reform.

The Times also begs to differ with Kurtz, saying, “This is a start on health care reform, not the end.”

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, has set its sights on Democrats, who the paper says should be held accountable for their intervention into the health space.

House Democrats last night passed President Obama’s federal takeover of the U.S. health-care system, and the ticker tape media parade is already underway. So this hour of liberal political victory is a good time to adapt the “Pottery Barn” rule that Colin Powell once invoked on Iraq: You break it, you own it.

The Journal expresses concern over the bill’s impact on companies, noting that industrial machinery maker Caterpillar has already predicted that in its first year the bill will add $100 million to Cat’s health-care costs. The Journal further predicts unpleasant electoral consequences for Democrats who supported the bill.

On one count, the Times and the Journal have reached agreement. Journalists still have a row to hoe on health care: “This week’s votes don’t end our health-care debates,” says the Journal. Sorry, Howard Kurtz!

Fellow News Corp. daily the New York Post highlights the bill’s pork content, frets about increased deficits and looks ahead to the mid-term elections: “Soon will come November, and — perhaps — a day of reckoning.”

Barack Obama did something no one else has been able to do in seventy years, says the New York Daily News. He has staked his presidency on this bill, says the paper.

The good capitalists over at The Economist grudgingly endorsed the bill on Thursday. In its reporting today, the British weekly says that 32 million Americans will start getting insurance in 2014 (a good thing), but the legislation will cost about $940 billion over the next decade (a bad thing).

Perhaps last night’s vote has not exactly tied up every loose end surrounding health care in America. But hopefully America’s journalists can at least take a well-deserved breather.