With the stroke of a pen this morning, President Obama accomplished two of his administration's major goals. First, he put the finishing touches on health care reform--stripping the law he signed last week of some of its most controversial elements, while strengthening several others. Second, he enacted one of the major goals he set forth during the presidential campaign: student loan reform.
"This week we can rightly say, the foundation on which America's future will be built is stronger than it was one year ago," Obama said moments ago before a crowd at Northern Virginia Community College.
The bill he just signed nullifies the controversial Nebraska Medicaid deal, bolsters insurance subsidies to working- and middle-class consumers, and closes the Medicare prescription-drug donut hole.
But, less-noticed, is that the legislation contains a completely separate section, creating sweeping reforms to the student loan industry, removing for-profit lenders as middlemen between students and federal assistance, and saving the government billions of dollars a year.
Ahead of the signing, Obama described these twin achievements--health care, and student loan reform--as "two major victories in one week that will improve lives of our people for generations to come."
Democrats will now continue a two-pronged post-health care strategy: selling the reforms they just enacted while vigorously pursuing a major overhaul of the financial sector on Capitol Hill.