WASHINGTON (AFP) – Most leading US newspapers Monday backed health care reform legislation championed by President Barack Obama, saying it amounted to a major change in American society.
Late Sunday, the Democratic-held House of Representatives voted 219-212 to approve a Senate-passed bill aimed at extending coverage to tens of millions of Americans.
It has been described as the most sweeping social policy shift in four decades.
The vote "assures that whatever the ultimate cost, President Obama will go down in history as one of the handful of presidents who found a way to reshape the nation?s social welfare system," said a New York Times analysis piece.
The paper has long supported the reform in its editorials.
"After the bitterest of debates, Mr. Obama proved that he was willing to fight for something that moved him to his core," writer David Sanger noted.
"Skeptics had begun to wonder. But he showed that when he was finally committed to throwing all his political capital onto the table, he could win, if by the narrowest of margins."
The Washington Post's columnist E.J. Dionne wrote that the passage of health-care reform "provided the first piece of incontestable evidence that Washington has changed.
"Congress is, indeed, capable of carrying through fundamental social reform," Dionne added.
"No longer will the United States be the outlier among wealthy nations in leaving so many of its citizens without basic health coverage."
The Post endorsed the health care reform bill on Friday.
A Los Angeles Times editorial said the bill "may prove to be the signal accomplishment of Obama's administration, even though the controversy surrounding it threatens to end his party's majority in Congress.
"Rarely has such a good thing for Americans been perceived by so many as a threat to their livelihood and liberty," it added.
One of the few dissenting voices came from The Wall Street Journal, which said the bill amounted a "federal takeover" of the US health-care system -- "and the ticker tape media parade is already underway," it added.
"So this hour of liberal political victory is a good time to adapt the "Pottery Barn" rule that Colin Powell once invoked on Iraq: You break it, you own it," The Journal said in an editorial.
"This week's votes don't end our health-care debates," the conservative paper continued.
"By making medical care a subsidiary of Washington, they guarantee such debates will never end.
"And by ramming the vote through Congress on a narrow partisan majority, and against so much popular opposition, Democrats have taken responsibility for what comes next -- to insurance premiums, government spending, doctor shortages and the quality of care.
"They are now the rulers of American medicine."