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Question of the Day
He also repeated his campaign stump line that health care has been discussed for decades but never reformed because of “special interests.”
On the tax issue, Mr. Obama told Mr. Lehrer that the wealthy can afford to pay more and that he understands there are different proposals floating about.
“The gap, though, is one that I think can be closed relatively easily if everybody is committed to making sure that we get this done,” he said.
Though it seemed Mr. Obama was backing off his August deadline, calling only for a bill to be done “this year,” he told NBC and Mr. Lehrer on Monday that without deadlines nothing gets done in Washington.
To regain control of the debate, Mr. Obama will hold an 8 p.m. news conference Wednesday and will go to a Cleveland high school Thursday for a health care town-hall meeting.
Monday’s back-and-forth comes as the big fight this week while senators struggle to come up with a way to pay for their plan and as House leaders battle conservative Blue Dog Democrats on the details.
On Capitol Hill, key committees in the House and Senate scrambled to sew up support. The House Energy and Commerce Committee met with fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats who threatened to withhold support if they didn’t get cost-cutting measures and rural and small-business support into the House bill.
Lawmakers in both parties are getting antsy about the plan’s price tag as the country fights its fiscal woes. The director of the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’ official scorekeeper, last week said the bills making their way through Congress would drive up government spending and wouldn’t curtail skyrocketing costs to consumers.
The Senate Finance Committee’s bipartisan group of negotiators met again late Monday to try to craft a plan that would garner Republican support in the upper chamber, already blowing through deadlines set by the White House and party leadership.
Three Republicans and three Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have come to agreement on four of the group’s previously unresolved issues, Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, told reporters late Monday. He declined to talk about specifics or to say when the group would have a complete reform bill.
“These are big issues,” he said of the group’s progress.
The committee is under pressure from the White House and Senate leadership to move more quickly. The committee staff met throughout the weekend, including with Office of Management and Budget Director Peter R. Orszag.
Meanwhile, outside players ramped up efforts to get their voices heard in the reform debate.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to announce an advertising campaign Tuesday, targeting the employer mandates in the House health care reform bill, which the group says would threaten the employer-based system.
The Democratic National Committee expanded its campaign to House members who are likely to cast pivotal votes on the reform bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee.
About the Author
By Michael P. Orsi
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