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Democrats lack the votes to pass health care reform

By LIBBY QUAID
March 14, 2010

(AFP)

The House’s chief Democratic headcounter said Sunday he hadn’t rounded up enough votes to pass President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul heading into a make-or-break week, even as the White House’s top political adviser said he was “absolutely confident” in its prospects.

The administration gave signs of retreating on its demands that senators jettison special home-state deals sought by individual lawmakers that have angered the public.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs predicted House passage this week, before Obama travels to Asia, a trip he postponed to push for the bill.

“This is the week where we will have this important vote,” Gibbs said. “I do think this is the climactic week for health care reform.”

Political strategist David Axelrod said Democrats will persuade enough lawmakers to vote “yes.” The House GOP leader, Ohio Rep. John Boehner, took up the challenge, acknowledging Republicans alone can’t stop the measure but pledging to do “everything we can to make it difficult for them, if not impossible, to pass the bill.” Republicans believe they may get help from Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns.

Axelrod said it will be a struggle, taking aim at insurance industry lobbyists who “have landed on Capitol Hill like locusts” and Republicans who see being on the losing side of the vote as a political victory.

“I am absolutely confident that we are going to be successful. I believe that there is a sense of urgency on the part of members of Congress,” given recent news about insurance plan rate increases, Axelrod said.

A dose of reality came from Rep. James Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat and main vote counter. “No, we don’t have them as of this morning, but we’ve been working this thing all weekend,” said Clyburn, D-S.C.

Clyburn said he was confident the measure would pass, echoing comments from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Saturday.

Axelrod also indicated the White House was backing down on an attempt to get senators to rid the legislation of a number of lawmakers’ special deals.

Taking a new position, he said the White House only objects to state-specific arrangements, such as an increase in Medicaid funding for Nebraska, ridiculed as the “Cornhusker Kickback.” That’s being cut, but provisions that could affect more than one state are OK, Axelrod said.

That means deals sought by senators from Montana and Connecticut would be fine — even though Gibbs last week singled them out as items Obama wanted removed. There was resistance, however, from two powerful committee chairman, Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and the White House has apparently backed down.

“The principle that we want to apply is that are these: Are these applicable to all states? Even if they do not qualify now, would they qualify under certain sets of circumstances?” Axelrod said.

That’s the argument made by aides to Baucus and Dodd. The measure to give Medicare coverage to asbestos-sickened residents of Libby, Mont., could apply to other places where public health emergencies are declared — even though Libby is the only place where that’s happened so far. Dodd’s deal would leave it up to the health secretary to decide where to spend $100 million for construction of a hospital, though Dodd has made clear he hopes the University of Connecticut would be the beneficiary.

Trying to increase public pressure on Congress to pass the legislation, Obama planned to travel on Monday to Strongsville, Ohio, home of cancer patient Natoma Canfield, who wrote the president she gave up her health insurance premium after it rose to $8,500 a year. Canfield is a self-employed cleaning worker who lives in the Cleveland suburb.

Gibbs said she had to decide between keeping her health insurance or her house and chose to keep her house.

Canfield’s sister was scheduled to introduce Obama at the 1 p.m. event.

Boehner said Democrats never made a serious attempt to incorporate GOP ideas in the measure, saying they took only “a couple of Republican bread crumbs and put them on top of their 2,700-page bill.”

The legislation would provide health insurance to tens of millions who currently have none and would ban insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. It would require most people to obtain insurance and would subsidize premiums for poor and middle-income Americans.

The health care bill appeared close to passage in January, before Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts special election to fill the seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy, which cost the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Since then, the White House and Democrats have tried to rescue the effort, pushing to have the House pass legislation that cleared the Senate in December. Besides Republican opposition, Democrats still are face resistance in their own party from anti-abortion lawmakers worried about how and whether insurance plans should pay for abortions. The bill needs 216 votes to clear the House.

Axelrod was on ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” Gibbs appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Clyburn was on NBC and Boehner on CNN.

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12 Responses to Democrats lack the votes to pass health care reform

  1. b mcclellan

    March 14, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    The joke is open for discussion considering health and well being aren’t a page in next Sundays funny pages none of us has 75 cents to spend on.

    America will and always be the reality wherein trying to get it right will rule,
    despite all efforts to the contrary.

    With or without, America transcends poetry in and of herself,
    as the singular viable entity that guards, sentinels, needs adjustment, ever vigilance provides.
    My Girl.

  2. AustinRanter (AKA Gregg)

    March 14, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Nothing like 2000 pages of corrupt BS to lay the path to America’s next even further descent into idiocracy.

  3. b mcclellan

    March 14, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Plutacroids and idiots insult, categorize ,and impute.

    Without proprieties of wisdom for lack of alphabet cannot the lump, the last apology within from the without benefie Benefy.?.

  4. Carl Nemo

    March 14, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Often I mention that I analyze photo’s supplied with articles. The doctor or medical ‘professional’ in the photo is performing a penetrative procedure on the human skin, but is wearing a wristwatch, the surface and surely the band links being a haven for bacteria, possibly one of the newer super strains that will surely kill a patient without exotic, highly expensive antibiotics. A wristwatch has no place on the arm of anyone performing an invasive medical procedure.

    My point is that our government is doing a less than septic financially invasive procedure relative to the passage of this 2700 plus page,hemorrhoidectomy, sans anesthesia of the U.S. taxpayer. Filthy politicians, filthy watches, what’s the difference? There are no known antibiotics to counter the terminal infection produced by corrupt crimpols. : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  5. b mcclellan

    March 15, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Wanna bet?
    From outside, inside Carl,
    recruits bear and are borne to service the laying down on the line as we profligate this entity , America.

    11th Cavalry will ride, 2nd marines, fear resides not where oath Presides..

    • Carl Nemo

      March 15, 2010 at 12:26 am

      I hope you are correct Mr. McClellan, but many recent surveys done among Marines and Army personnel as to the question if they would fire on American citizens if ordered to do so didn’t set too well with me. Of course whether the orders were of illegal advisement or not was not in question.

      As the status quo unravels and the ever so corrupt “Big O” along with his advisers and crimpols in high places of a similar stripe, declare martial law will surely put their jackboot upon our collective necks for us to submit. A new age ‘military’ person who’s still getting a Treasury check and his family taken care of will not hesitate to take out their fellow citizens if ordered to so. It’s happened many times before in world history without modern technological trappings; ie., electronic deposits… / : |

      Most if not all folks including modern law enforcement will have been compromised for just a “few dollars more”; providing mall privileges and the guarantee of their last remaining right to “shop until they drop” is not threatened…no?! : |

      Carl Nemo **==

  6. gtouch

    March 15, 2010 at 10:18 am

    b mcclellan I thought the idea was to speak plainly so everyone could hear and understand ones thoughts. Apparantly I do not have the brain power to read your responses as I have no idea what you are trying to say. Your thoughts may be of great import or may be random ramblings. I cannot tell which. I guess my Stanford MBA isn’t what I thought it was as I cannot get your message.

    • Carl Nemo

      March 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm

      Hi grouch,

      Bryan has grown on me over time and I consider him to be a friend in thought; ie, an asset to the site. I suspect he’s huffing methane from his kitchen stove enabling him to speak as the oracle of Delphi at times. It’s tough to wade through, but I work at it. On a few occasions I’ve simply asked him what he meant and he was more than willing to translate his message down to a mere mortal’s level such as mine. : )

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Carl Nemo

        March 16, 2010 at 4:00 pm

        My apologies “gtouch”. I wear bifocals and mistakenly read your handle as “grouch”. Ouch!

        Carl Nemo **==

  7. gtouch

    March 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Thanks Carl. When I saw that I reread what I had wrote wondering if I came off as grouchy. Wasn’t trying to be.

  8. Almandine

    March 16, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Bryan is truly a rare commodity…

  9. gtouch

    March 17, 2010 at 12:29 am

    By commodity do you mean something to be sold and traded like Pork Bellies? Just kidding I get your meaning. Thanks for helping out.