Wednesday afternoon, I took this photo outside the Senate wing of the US Congress. The kids in the photo have been told to wait while Vice President Dick Cheney's motorcade prepares to leave Capital Hill.
As it turned out VP Dick Cheney didn't have to cast the deciding vote in the Senate on a healthcare bill. That's because Senator Edward Kennedy -- recovering from brain surgery -- showed up in a wheelchair to cast the deciding vote.
Economist Paul Krugman believes the passage of the health bill Wednesday could prove the tipping point in the Democratic Party's decades-long struggle to provide Americans with universal health insurance:
. . . the vote was bigger than the theatrics. It was the first major health care victory that Democrats have won in a long time. And it was enormously encouraging for advocates of universal health care.Basically, the Democrats just proved they could take on the US health insurance industry and win.
Here’s how it will play out, if all goes well: early next year, President Obama will send his health care plan to Congress. The plan will face vociferous opposition from the insurance industry — but the Medicare vote suggests that this time, unlike in 1993, Democrats will hold together.
Unless Democrats win even bigger than expected, however, they won’t have the 60 Senate votes needed to override a filibuster. What the Medicare fight shows is that the Democrats could nonetheless prevail by taking their case to the public, daring their opponents to stand in way of health care security — so that in the end they get some Republicans to switch sides, and get the legislation through.