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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs