News / USA

Democrats, Republicans Dig in on US Health Care Reform

Congressional Democrats said Friday they will push ahead with a controversial health care reform plan, President Barack Obama's top domestic policy goal.  Both sides in the health care debate are assessing the political landscape in the wake of Thursday's seven-hour discussion on the issue hosted by President Obama.

As expected, the marathon talking session did not produce any bipartisan agreement on health care, and the stage appears set for Democrats to make one final push in Congress to enact the president's top domestic priority with or without help from opposition Republicans.

The so called health care summit gave both sides an opportunity to restate their positions on the issue, with the president playing the role of moderator in search of common ground.

But given the hardened positions on both sides, Mr. Obama signaled that he and his Democratic allies were prepared to move ahead on the issue and let the public render a verdict in the congressional midterm elections in November.

"And if we can't, then I think we've got to go ahead and make some decisions and then that's what elections are for.  We have honest disagreements about the vision for the country and we'll go ahead and test those out over the next several months till November," said the president.

Republicans saw little movement toward common ground in the summit.  This is the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

"Frankly, I was discouraged by the outcome.  I do not believe there will be any Republican support for this 2,700-page bill," he said.

If anything, the meeting seemed to highlight the ideological differences between the two parties on health care.

Conservatives like Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl oppose the Democratic plan as an intrusion of government into the private sector that will result in soaring budget deficits.

"There are some fundamental differences between us here that we cannot paper over.  And, Mr. President, when you said that this is a philosophical debate and it is a legitimate debate, I agree with that," said Kyl.

Democrats who emerged from the meeting seemed just as determined to press ahead with plans to extend health insurance coverage to about 30 million Americans who currently do not have it.

After a year of debate, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said it is time for action.

"Time is of the essence.  The American people have waited five decades for this.  It is time we do something and we are going to do it," he said.

Many political experts said the health care summit yielded little in terms of bipartisanship and seemed more an exercise in political theatre.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of the Weekly Standard magazine:

"My verdict on it was that it was unusual but it really didn't lead anywhere.  In other words, it did not improve the chances of the health care legislation that President Obama so much wants to get passed," he said.

Barnes spoke on VOA's Issues in the News program, as did longtime political observer Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News.

"The ideological differences may be so strong that they just will not be able to come together, and I don't believe that they will.  Obama kept trying to get the Republicans to try to find some middle ground, but it is pretty clear there is not much, if any, middle ground," Barenes said.

Democrats must decide now how they will move ahead in trying to pass the reform measure.  Public opinion polls show Americans oppose the Democratic reform bill, even though surveys also show most Americans want Congress to do something about the rising cost of health care.

Tom DeFrank says the next several weeks will be a major political test for President Obama.

"Obama has to prove that he can govern, and to prove you can govern, you have got to get something passed.  So far, his list of legislative accomplishments is pretty meager, and he does have to worry about midterm elections in November of this year," said DeFrank.

What happens to Mr. Obama's health care plan will have an enormous impact on his political standing, both at home and abroad.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee this week that the domestic political battle over health care and other issues is having an impact on the president's foreign policy goals and the U.S. image overseas.

"We have to be attuned to how the rest of the world sees the functioning of our government because it is an asset.  It may be an intangible asset, but it is an asset of great importance, and as we sell democracy and we are the lead democracy in the world, I want people to know that we have checks and balances but we also have the capacity to move, too," Clinton said.

Democrats say they remain open to Republican ideas on health care, but several Republicans at the health care summit urged the president to simply scrap the Democratic bill and start over.

Republicans often cite public opposition to the bill in opinion polls, and they expect that opposition to help them gain seats in the November congressional elections.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid