New Health Care Law May Offer Cure For Democrats

NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says the signing of the health care bill has gone a long way toward assuaging for President Obama the shock of Jan. 19 — that's the day Democrats were stunned by the loss of Edward Kennedy's Senate seat to a Republican.

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Yesterday's White House signing ceremony for the health care bill was more political pep rally than sober presidential business. NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr says that's hardly surprising, given that the first patient healed by the legislation may be the Democratic Party itself.

DANIEL SCHORR: The health care victory of March 21st has gone a long towards assuaging, for President Obama, the shock of January 19th. That was the day Democrats were stunned by the loss of the Kennedy seat in the Senate to a Republican, Scott Brown. That seemed to portend heavy Democratic losses in the off-year election in November, and it spelled trouble for the administration's health care reform, high on the president's agenda and under a concentrated Republican attack as a socialist creation and a budget buster.

Mr. Obama's normal impulse would have been to reach out for bipartisan consensus on health care reform and settle for what he could get. This time, he bet the ranch on winning his health care bill, and he won in a closely fought contest.

It has become commonplace to call the insurance plan a historic moment, on the order of Social Security and Medicare. But it also has the immediate effect of setting the stage for the next steps in the Obama agenda.

The prospects for extension of unemployment benefits are brighter, financial regulation may move faster, and an energy initiative may get a new lease on life. Immigration reform may finally be taken off the back burner.

In short, Democratic reverses no longer look like a fatal inevitability. A new day has dawned in a partisan battle leading up to the next election.

The shock of a Massachusetts earthquake has begun to wear off after the Democratic victory - let's say the president's victory - on health care.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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