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Obama Signs Health Care Overhaul Bill

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					Obama Signs Health Care Overhaul Bill, With a Flourish
                                                                              President Obama signed major health care
                                                                              legislation into law on Tuesday.




                                                                              By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and
                                                                              ROBERT PEAR
                                                                              The New York Times
                                                                              Published: March 23, 2010
WASHINGTON — With the strokes of 22 pens, President Obama signed his landmark health care overhaul — the
most expansive social legislation enacted in decades — into law on Tuesday, saying it enshrines “the core
principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care.”

Mr. Obama signed the measure, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, during a festive and at times
raucous ceremony in the East Room of the White House. He spoke to an audience of nearly 300, including more
than 200 Democratic lawmakers who rode a yearlong legislative roller coaster that ended with House passage of
the bill Sunday night. They interrupted him repeatedly with cheers, applause and standing ovations.

“The bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and
hungered to see,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “Today we are affirming that essential truth, a truth every generation
is called to rediscover for itself, that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations.”

Moments later, the president sat down at a table and affixed his left-handed, curlicue signature, almost letter by
letter, to the measure using 22 pens, most of which he intended to pass out as mementos to lawmakers, aides
and a handful of others, including Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who had
made passing the legislation his life’s work.

Mrs. Kennedy arrived wearing a blue bracelet that said “Tedstrong” on her wrist; Mr. Obama wore one, too. The
senator’s son Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island, was also on hand, carrying a gift for the
president: a copy of a bill his father introduced in 1970 to provide national health insurance. On it, the younger Mr.
Kennedy had written a personal message to Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama was joined as well by a select group of ordinary Americans, among them 11-year-old Marcelas
Owens of Seattle, who became an advocate for health reform after his mother died without insurance, and Connie
Anderson, whose sister is Natoma Canfield, the Ohio cancer patient whose struggles to pay rising health
premiums became a case in point for Mr. Obama.

While Democrats exulted, Republicans, who describe the measure as an example of big government run amok,
said it was no day to celebrate.

“This is a somber day for the American people,” said Representative John A. Boehner, the House Republican
leader. “By signing this bill, President Obama is abandoning our founding principle that government governs best
when it governs closest to the people.”

Despite the president’s signature, the legislative work on the bill is not over, nor is the partisan tussle over it.
Republicans on Tuesday renewed their vow to repeal the measure, albeit with a fresh slogan, “repeal and
replace,” in a nod to the political difficulties of campaigning to overturn a measure that includes popular new
benefits, like allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.

Attorneys general in more than a dozen states, most Republican, filed lawsuits contending that the measure is
unconstitutional. In the Capitol, the Senate opened what is expected to be a contentious debate on a measure
that contains the final revisions to the health bill. Democrats and Republicans are bracing for a fierce fight that is
expected to last the balance of the week. The Republicans have said they will try to block the measure, or at least
use procedural weapons to punch as many holes in it as possible by striking out key provisions.

Democrats urged Republicans to stand down, given that the measure is already law.

“Now it is a fact,” declared Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana. “Now it is law. Now it is history. Indeed,
it’s historic.”

Tuesday’s signing ceremony was the beginning of what will be an intense sales pitch by the White House and
leading Democrats to convince Americans of the benefits of the health bill. As soon as it was over, Mr. Obama
went into campaign mode, traveling to the Interior Department — the federal building with the biggest auditorium
the White House could find — to address a crowd of more than 500 cheering doctors, nurses, patients and federal
employees.

It was a remarkable turnabout from just two months ago, when many Democrats thought the bill was dead after
Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, won Mr. Kennedy’s old Senate seat. His victory deprived Mr. Obama
of his 60-vote supermajority and left Democrats deeply nervous. At the White House on Tuesday, they seemed
jubilant, even giddy.

They chanted “Nancy! Nancy! Nancy!” as the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who had kept her skittish caucus
together, entered the East Room. They posed for pictures in front of the president’s podium as they waited for Mr.
Obama to arrive. When he did, accompanied by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the audience broke into his
standard call-and-response campaign chant: “Fired Up! Ready to go!”

Mr. Biden introduced Mr. Obama, lauding the president’s “perseverance” and “clarity of purpose.” But in a remark
that he clearly did not intend to be heard, Mr. Biden used a vulgarity in his private congratulations to the president
that, while not audible inside the room, was picked up by a broadcast microphone and spread quickly across the
Internet.

“Mr. President, this is a big [expletive] deal,” Mr. Biden whispered, inserting an adjective not used in polite
conversation. Later, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, sent out a message over Twitter: “And yes,
Mr. Vice President, you’re right.”

For Mr. Obama, the bill is indeed a big deal, one of the high points of his presidency. For the House Democrats in
his audience on Tuesday, it was the end of a very trying chapter, and a knowing chuckle spread across the room
when Mr. Obama remarked that many had “taken their lumps during this difficult debate.”

“Yes we did!” Representative Gary L. Ackerman, Democrat of New York, burst out — a riff on Mr. Obama’s
campaign slogan, “Yes we can.” The crowd, including the president, broke up laughing.




For more information on how Americans will be affected by the health care reform legislation,
check out: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/24/us/politics/20100319-health-care-
effect.html?ref=policy#tab=4

				
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