Health Care Reform: Which Party Comes Out on Top?

health care

There is little doubt that the passage of the Democrats' health care reform package will have significant political ramifications this year and in the years to come. Opinion makers in the realm of politics, however, are in sharp disagreement over which party comes out as the loser and which appears to be the victor after Sunday's vote.

Conservative commentators across the Web decried the procedural tactics Democrats used to pass their legislation without any Republican votes.

"Even though they have railroaded a 'victory' on the health care bill, it will be a pyrrhic one," wrote conservative commentator

Carol Platt Liebau on the Web site TownHall.com. "The President has revealed a ruthless arrogance - and the complete absence of any decent respect for the opinions of a majority of his fellow Americans - that will prove costly to him in the long run."

Democrats in the House "will no doubt be the first lambs to the slaughter" because of the vote, Liebau writes.

Some liberals also foresee a grim outlook for Democrats in this year's midterm elections.

Jane Hamsher of the progressive site FireDogLake.com contends that the health care bill's individual mandate -- which a number of states are prepared to challenge in court -- will motivate the conservative base in 2010 the way gay marriage did in 2004.

Hours before the House passed the bill, Hamsher wrote, "With the health care bill looking to pass with all the raw material the GOP could want to fuel its [Get Out the Vote] efforts in the fall, the Democratic party could be walking into a 2010 buzzsaw."

Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich also challenged the policy put forward in the bill, calling it "the most radical social experiment . . . in modern times," the Washington Post reports.

Democrats will regret pushing through their health care agenda, Gingrich said: "They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years" with the enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

Conservative commentator Bill Bennett also put the vote in some historical context: "The election of 1994 was an elephant stampede in the wake of ethics scandals, higher taxes, more spending, and a failed health-care bill," he wrote in on the National Review Online. "This year, we've seen ethics scandals, higher taxes, more spending, and a health-care bill achieved by an upside-down view of political power and constitutional perversion -- the 2010 election will be a clearing of the jungle."

Not all conservatives agreed the passage of the bill was a win for Republicans.

"Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s," wrote David Frum, a former speechwriter for former President George W. Bush. "It's hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster."

Frum contends the economy will improve by November and overshadow voter dissatisfaction with the health care legislation. Moreover, he said, the damage, policy-wise, is already done.

"Legislative majorities come and go," Frum wrote. "This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now."

Frum contends the GOP missed an opportunity to influence the legislation. "Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan," he wrote, but Republicans "followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat."

Frum titled his article "Waterloo," alluding to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)'s comment that health care reform would be President Obama's "Waterloo."

Joe Sudbay of the liberal blog AmericaBlog also chided the Republicans' opposition tactics. "The Republican motto should be, to paraphrase FDR, the only thing we have is fear itself," he wrote.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air also argues that Republicans have learned a tough political lesson. Voters care about health care costs, and the GOP should have addressed it when it had the chance, between 2002 and 2006, he writes.

"What we see now is the result of leaving that vacuum on a major issue," Morrissey writes. "Since the GOP refused to engage on it, they wound up with lower credibility. More importantly, by not accomplishing reform when they had their chance, Republicans left it on the table for when the Democrats got complete control of Washington."

While Gingrich compared the politics of the health care debate to the politics of the 1960's, a number of liberal commentators say the health care package is just as significant in terms of policy as the legislation passed in that era.

"I don't think it's hyperbole to compare this breakthrough to passage of American bedrocks like Social Security and Medicare," wrote Steve Benen of Washington Monthly. "The health care reform bill represents a towering legislative accomplishment and a transformational moment."

Progressive filmmaker Michael Moore suggests at the Huffington Post that even conservatives will grow to like the legislation, once they start to see the benefits.

"When you find yourself suddenly broadsided by a life-threatening illness someday, perhaps you'll thank those pinko-socialist, Canadian-loving Democrats and independents for what they did Sunday evening," he wrote.

Watch CBS News White House Correspondent Chip Reid and CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes discuss the politics of Sunday's health care vote on today's "Washington Unplugged," below:


More Coverage of Health Care Reform:

House Passes Health Care Bill
"Baby Killer" Mystery: Who Shouted At Stupak?
Poll: Health Care Reform Still Confusing
Health Care Bill Passed the House, But Battles Ahead in Senate, Court
Health Care Debate Shows Ideological Split
Obama: "This is What Change Looks Like"
Health Care Vote: How Each Representative Voted
Announcement of the Vote
Boehner Tells Democrats: Shame on You
Pelosi Urges House to "Make History"
Health Care Bill: What's In It?
Short-Term Effect of the Bill
Stupak Called "Baby Killer" for Backing Bill
CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care

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