*Using 20 different pens, President Barack Obama made history in the White House East Room Tuesday by signing his historic $938 billion health care overhaul that guarantees coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans.
Celebrating “a new season in America,” Obama was joined by jubilant House and Senate Democrats as well as people whose health care struggles have touched the president – including an 11-year-old boy whose 27-year-old mother died after losing her health insurance along with her job.
“With all the punditry, all the lobbying, all the game-playing that passes for governing here in Washington, it’s been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing, to wonder if there are limits to what we as a people can still achieve,” Obama said, his remarks interrupted by applause after nearly every sentence. “We are not a nation that scales back its aspirations. We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust. We don’t fall prey to fear. We are not a nation that does what’s easy. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we got here.”
Also standing with the president during the signing was Vicky Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) who spent most of his career fighting for universal health insurance.
Meanwhile, Republicans continue to oppose to the health care overhaul, declaring it much too costly and unlikely to produce the results that Obama claims. The Republicans pledged to see Democrats punished in this fall’s elections for approving the legislation over deep public skepticism.
With that in mind, and with many of the law’s most sweeping changes not to take effect for years, Obama emphasized the bill’s most immediate impacts, including the ability of young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans and a ban on insurers denying coverage to sick children.
“We have now just enshrined the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health,” the president said.