- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 13, 2009

Two lawmakers with key votes in the Senate health-care debate said several provisions must be stripped in order to ensure their support, though these provisions are key to winning support of liberal members.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s top Republican continued on Sunday to predict that Democrats would not find the votes they need.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, said a provision allowing people people ages 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare is a bad deal for the taxpayers and the federal budget deficit.

Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, also criticized that proposal, which was added to the Senate bill to substitute for the public option, as the first step toward a single-payer socialized health system.

Mr. Nelson also said he could not support the measure without new safeguards against public funding of abortions. The Senate already has rejected his effort to add such an amendment, which passed the House earlier this fall.

But at the other end of the Democratic spectrum, many top liberals, most especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have said even the public option is essential to their support.

Democratic leaders have stuck by a stated deadline of Christmas for passage of the sweeping bill, but divisions within the Democratic caucus have made that seem increasingly unlikely.

“There are more Democratic positions than you’d find in a stack of newspapers, and therein lies the problem,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said.

Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Nelson and Mr. McConnell appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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