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Obama’s health bill stumbles in Senate

WASHINGTON: The signature bill of Barack Obama’s first year – health reform that curbs costs and picks up 30 million uninsured people – is looking sick.The likelihood of a US Senate vote before Christmas is fading, amid stalling tactics by the Republicans and objections from liberal Democrats.A delay over the Christmas break could be extremely dangerous as senators will return home to their states, facing an increasingly worried public. But it would also be a crushing blow to the President, who desperately needs a win.Two new polls show that support for Mr Obama’s health care reform is ebbing in the face of a barrage of negative advertising from interest groups. A Wall Street Journal poll found that only 32 per cent of Americans think it a ”good” idea. A Washington Post poll found that only 35 per cent of independents support it, down 10 points in a month.There is also pressure on the Administration from progressives who are bitterly disappointed that the Senate version has stripped out a public insurance option in favour of private subsidised care, and curtailed plans to expand Medicare, a government-funded program for seniors.This week former presidential candidate and medical practitioner, Howard Dean, called on Democrats to walk away from the latest proposal saying it did not achieve the reforms promised and amounted to the ”insurance companies’ dream”.The latest salvo came on Thursday from the head of the powerful Service Employees International Union, Andy Stern, who criticised the decision to sacrifice the public option and Medicare expansion.There were also rumblings on the right of the Democrats.One conservative senator, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who unsuccessfully proposed an amendment on abortion, was threatening to vote against the bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid needs all 58 Democrats and the two independents to vote to end debate and prevent a Republican filibuster.He has limited senators to 10 minutes each to speak on the bill, but time is running out. When the acting speaker, Democrat Al Franken, tried to impose the 10-minute rule on independent Joe Lieberman, Republican John McCain saw red.Debate had not been cut off in this way in the 27 years he had been in the Senate, he said.Democrats are now looking at a possible vote at 7pm on Christmas Eve – but even that might be ambitious.
Nanjing Night Net