The Obama Administration began its overhaul of the health care system with a speech by Tom Daschle (the then nominee for the Health and Human Services Cabinet post) on Jan. 7, 2009 a full two weeks before the President even took office. The next 439 days saw thousands of hours of televised debate, a summer of town-hall meetings and a deeply partisan and deadlocked Congress. Democrats argued that health insurance is a right, not a privilege and that it's the government's duty to help to those unable to acquire insurance on their own. Republicans countered by saying that a larger governmental role would mean more bureaucracy, inflated costs and an ineffective health care system. Oh, and death panels.
Finally, Democratic leaders pushed the bill to a vote through a process known as budget reconciliation. But the legislation's fate remained unclear until a last-minute deal was brokered with antiabortion Democrats: an Obama promise for an Executive Order that would ensure federal funds were not used to pay for abortions. With that, the bill passed the House March 21 on a 219-212 vote (not a single Republican voted in favor) sending the underlying Senate bill to President Obama's desk for signature. Now that wasn't so hard, was it?