The Affordable Care Act derives from one of the most extraordinary efforts in American history. Liberals had dreamed of extending medical care to all Americans for more than a century. Let me repeat: More than a one hundred years. After the Hillarycare debacle, most Democrats were fully prepared to let that dream die. By the turn of the Millennium, only Howard “byaaah!” Dean was willing to advocate universal health care.
But things changed. As it so often has, progress began with unions. Specifically, the SEIU chose to require all presidential candidates to sign on or else lose the Union’s endorsement. Our old friend John Edwards was the first to follow suit. The subsequent response was breathtaking. “UHC” migrated from fantasy to consensus so quickly that the debate came down to a wonkish detail.
Barack Obama won the presidency and kept his promise. In spite of gale-force headwinds, he gritted his teeth and passed a bill. It took over a year, during which time even such leaders as Barney Frank dismissed the law as a lost cause. When Obama sat down at his desk to sign the bill into law, we saw that politics can still be noble.
This impression immediately came under threat. Over the next three years, we fought off cynical lawyers, greedy business interests, racist fanatics, etc. to keep the uninsured from, as the Tea Party would have them, dying on the street. The fight still is not over. However, today, October 1, 2013, the United States of America is a better place.
Thank you, Mr. President.