“Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied — health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. Today.”

These were the words from President Barack Obama as he signed into law the historic $US938 billion dollar health-care reform that will confirm his legacy as one of the great Democrat presidents. It is a significant domestic achievement for Obama and will see health insurance coverage extended to 31 million previously uninsured Americans.

The Bill — which passed through the House on Monday (AEST) with a vote of 219-212 — is a special moment for Obama, especially given that the Democrats had lost their filibuster-proof majority in January this year. Coverage of the historic moment has been widespread in the international media, here is what the commentators are saying:

In the papers, the Chicago Sun-Times, LA Times and Washington Post have highlighted the significance of Obama’s historical achievement in their editorials today.

In its editorial, the New York Times also expressed its support for the Bill saying that while the process was “wrenching”, President Obama has “put his presidency on the line for an accomplishment of historic proportions”.

Over at the Huffington Post, co-founder Arianna Huffington writes that the Bill will provide Obama with much-needed momentum to “tackle the huge problems ahead” as he heads towards the second half of his presidency. She also writes that it will be the “kind of momentum that builds upon itself” and may be enough to avoid a wipe out as Congress approaches the mid-term elections.

Todd Purdum at Vanity Fair writes that health-care reform means Obama has ensured his Presidential legacy when he leaves office. He also says that the Republicans who now oppose it will “embrace” the Bill when they realise the benefits it will bring.

Meanwhile, at the Washington Post, Ceci Connolly sets out how Obama revived the health-care Bill when it looked all but finished, while E.J. Dionne Jnr writes that the US will no longer be “an outlier among wealthy nations in leaving so many of its citizens without basic health coverage”.

In the Guardian, Sahil Kapur writes that Obama’s historic health-care Bill is a “triumph”, saying thatfor all the legislation’s flaws, it’s a tremendous leap toward a more decent and just society”.

However, despite the historic nature of the Bill, not everyone is cheering. Support for Obama’s health-care reform has been heavily split down partisan lines, with conservative commentators and politicians outraged that “ObamaCare” is socialist, fascist and everything in between.

The GOP is mobilising its forces in the hope that the legislation will provide it with a platform to attack the Democrats in the November Congress midterm elections.

In its editorial, the National Review is convinced that the Bill will “increase taxes, increase premiums and increase debt” and in the process “decrease economic growth, job growth, and the quality of health care”. In the editorial at the Washington Examiner, they write that the Democrats have “made a mockery of bipartisanship” by forcing the Bill on to Republicans. “The Democrats have undercut the credibility of the law they created,” it said.

Over the pond at the Telegraph, Nile Gardiner writes that the Bill is “yet another blow to freedom in America” from Obama and will prove to be a “millstone round the necks of the American people”.

Dennis Byrne, from the Chicago Tribune, also airs his view that the Bill may struggle to make it through the US Supreme Court, saying that it will either be the judiciary or voters who “slay” the health-care “monster”.

Meanwhile, at the New York Times former Democrat supporter David Brooks writes that watching his former party rejoice, is like watching a family reunion. “One glimpse and you got the whole panoply of what you loved and found annoying about these people,” he writes.

In other coverage, The Atlantic is covering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s moment in the sun and the NY Daily News details  how Vice-President Joe Biden told his boss that health-care reform is a “big f-cking deal”.

Peter Fray

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