All President Obama wants for Christmas is Senate Passage of the Harry Reid Heath care bill. The Democrats are still desperately trying to round up 60 votes for cloture debate to allow a vote/passage of the bill before December 25th.
Today it President Obama moved a bit further from his Christmas present, and the rest of America a bit closer to ours, as some key Senators came out against the bill in its present form.
On television Sunday, Mr. Lieberman said: “We’ve got to stop adding to the bill. We’ve got to start subtracting some controversial things. Mr. Lieberman described what it would take to get his vote. “You’ve got to take out the Medicare buy-in,” he said. “You’ve got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the Class Act, which was a whole new entitlement program that will, in future years, put us further into deficit.”
Even if Reid gave Lieberman what he wanted there is that sticky situation about abortion, Senator Nelson also voiced his opposition today, and Claire McCaskill took one giant step backwards:
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Senators skeptical that health care deal is near
While Senate Democratic leaders have been touting strong support for a new health care plan that expands Medicare coverage to younger Americans, there is not enough support within the party to pass it, and key lawmakers are growing more skeptical.
Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said they would vote against the proposal unless significant changes were made, which leaves Democrats at least two votes shy of the 60 votes they need to pass the bill.
“The opposition to it has been growing as the week has gone on,” Lieberman said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” adding, “There are not 60 votes for health care reform in the Senate now.”
With December nearly halfway gone, Democrats are struggling to pass health care legislation by the end of the year. But they have been unable to come up with a plan that can win enough support.
In an attempt to appease his moderate faction, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., last week cast aside a plan to create a government-run health insurance program. Reid instead put in place a proposal that would increase Medicare coverage to people starting at age 55 and allow everyone else the option of enrolling in a national plan similar to the one used by federal employees.
Reid declared “broad agreement” had been reached between his liberal and moderate factions, but within days, the so-called compromise began to unravel as moderates such as Lieberman and Nelson questioned the cost and scope of the plan, the details of which have yet to be released to lawmakers.
Lieberman said the Medicare expansion plan “has some of the same infirmities that the public option did. It will add taxpayer costs. It will add to the deficit.”
Lieberman said the expansion was unnecessary because of the health care subsidies provided elsewhere in the massive health care bill, and that he would not vote for a bill with either the Medicare expansion or the government-run public option in it.
Making passage even more difficult is Nelson’s opposition to abortion rules in the bill. Last week, Nelson’s amendment to block federal funding of insurance policies that cover elective abortion was defeated by other Democrats. Nelson says he refuses to vote for a bill until some kind of compromise can be reached.
“I said I can’t support the bill with the abortion language that’s there,” Nelson said on “Face the Nation,” adding that finding a compromise would be “a tall order.”
Beyond abortion, Nelson and others are refusing to back the bill until the Congressional Budget Office produces a much-anticipated cost analysis of the proposal.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said on “Fox News Sunday” she was holding back her support of the Medicare expansion plan until she saw proof that it would lower health care costs.
“I have to be assured that this is going to bring down the deficit and it’s going to bring down health care costs for most Missouri families,” McCaskill said, adding that if it does not, “then we are going to have to go back to the drawing board.”