US newspapers back landmark reform package

MOST leading US newspapers yesterday backed healthcare reform legislation championed by President Barack Obama, saying it amounted to a major change in American society.

The vote “assures that whatever the ultimate cost, President Obama will go down in history as one of the handful of presidents who found a way to reshape the nation’s social welfare system,” said a New York Times analysis piece.

The paper has long supported the reform.

“After the bitterest of debates, Mr Obama proved that he was willing to fight for something that moved him to his core,” writer David Sanger noted.

“Sceptics had begun to wonder. But he showed that when he was finally committed to throwing all his political capital onto the table, he could win, if by the narrowest of margins.”

The Washington Post’s columnist EJ Dionne wrote that the package “provided the first piece of incontestable evidence that Washington has changed.

“Congress is, indeed, capable of carrying through fundamental social reform,” Dionne added.

“No longer will the United States be the outlier among wealthy nations in leaving so many of its citizens without basic health coverage.”

The Post endorsed the healthcare reform bill on Friday.

A Los Angeles Times editorial said the bill “may prove to be the signal accomplishment of Obama’s administration, even though the controversy surrounding it threatens to end his party’s majority in Congress.

“Rarely has such a good thing for Americans been perceived by so many as a threat to their livelihood and liberty,” it added.

One of the few dissenting voices came from The Wall Street Journal, which said the bill amounted to a “federal takeover” of the US healthcare system.

“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 said.

“This week’s votes don’t end our healthcare debates,” the paper continued. “By making medical care a subsidiary of Washington, they guarantee such debates will never end,” the conservative paper added.

“And by ramming the vote through Congress on a narrow partisan majority, and against so much popular opposition, Democrats have taken responsibility for what comes next – to insurance premiums, government spending, doctor shortages and the quality of care.

“They are now the rulers of American medicine.”

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