There's still the reconciliation fix to go, and other details. But the biggest deed has now been done. As Paul Krugman writes:
There is, as always, a tunnel at the end of the tunnel: we’ll spend years if not decades fixing this thing. But kudos to all involved, with special praise for Nancy Pelosi, who is now a Speaker for the ages.
We still need a robust public option, or eventually single payer. The insurance companies need to be more tightly regulated. Stupak, Lieberman and the entire GOP behaved absolutely unconscionably. But as Krugman and others have pointed out, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid needed plenty of tinkering later on. Critics from the left have raised valid points. But roughly 30 million people will have some form of health care. Premiums should go down for the same amount of care for those already covered. Insurance companies can't deny people based on pre-existing conditions or dump patients in need via rescission. Those are huge victories.
We also saw some of the most dishonest and nasty political attacks ever from the Republican party, their cohorts at Fox News, and the teabaggers. Despite all their lies and obstructionist tactics, they lost. We can continue to improve the policy, but only one side of the aisle was ever working on that in earnest. This is also a huge political victory, and it calls for some celebration.
HAHAHAHAH. Nancy Pelosi loves pissing off teabaggers. Here she is linking arms with John Lewis, just like in the Selma march, to remind America of how teabaggers chanted “nigger” at John Lewis fifteen times yesterday. And if anyone gets in her way, she will smash their skulls into sandhills of calcium with her Weapon, the “1965 Medicare gavel,” forged by ancient socialist hobbits in a distant epoch, as a paean to Thor.
That's change I can believe in.
Update 2: Via Balloon Juice, a statement from Ted Kennedy's widow Victoria:
"As Ted Kennedy said, across the decades, in the best and the most discouraging hours, health care was the cause of his life. Tonight that cause becomes more than a dream, it becomes America's commitment.“
"This landmark moment belongs to President Barack Obama, to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the courageous members of the House, and to the colleagues he cherished in the Senate. Most of all, it belongs to America -- and it is one of the rare legislative achievements that belongs to the ages.
"When Ted stood with Barack Obama in 2008, he said he had new hope that we would break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- would have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege. And now they do and from now on they will.
"In the last words he wrote, Ted said that ‘if you persevere, stick with it, work at it, you have a real opportunity to achieve something. Sure, there will be storms along the way. And you might not reach your goal right away. But if you do your best and keep a true compass, you'll get there.’ Ted knew we would get here, and all of us who loved him and shared his hopes for America are deeply grateful."