Brit Hume: New Era for America?

The near-term political consequences of the passage of health care reform are likely to be quite severe for the Democratic Party.

Only those who believe in the Tooth Fairy think that a bill adding millions to the health insurance rolls will end up curbing the exploding cost of health care in America. And no one in their right mind should believe that Congress will actually cut a half billion dollars out of Medicare spending to help pay for this plan. Congress has never made such cuts before, but a public more worried than ever before about exploding government spending and debt clearly wants somebody to start saying no.

The Republicans in Congress have been voting no for more than a year and have prospered in the polls and in the off-year elections as a result. That trend is likely to continue through the fall midterms, ending the Democrats' huge majorities in both Houses.

It's not too soon to start asking what then? Apart from the sluggish economy, the nation is facing a looming budgetary crisis that could make the economy sluggish for decades to come. Democrats will try to overcome it with higher taxes, which nobody will like. Republicans are likely call for cuts in spending, including entitlement program spending.

But the public has never been willing to accept the kind of cuts in benefit programs that would be needed to solve the problem. The question is: Is the public worried enough about this to accept them now?

Brit Hume is the senior political analyst for Fox News Channel.