Repub­li­cans cool to Obama’s call for ur­gent health-care re­form

Cape Breton Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama al­ter­na­tively courted and blasted Repub­li­cans who have im­peded his health­care plan Thurs­day, in an ex­traor­di­nary live-on-TV sum­mit aimed at break­ing a par­ti­san dead­lock over his top do­mes­tic pri­or­ity.

With the un­prece­dented, day­long pol­icy de­bate avail­able from start to fin­ish to a di­vided pub­lic, Obama and Demo­cratic leaders cast the re­form they want as crit­i­cal to tackling an is­sue that is even more press­ing to many Amer­i­cans — the strug­gling econ­omy.

Pass­ing a ver­sion of the bill that Repub­li­cans man­aged to block de­spite solid Demo­cratic ma­jori­ties in Congress also is crit­i­cal to the pres­i­dent’s po­lit­i­cal fu­ture and that of his party ahead of con­gres­sional elec­tions in Novem­ber.

With that in mind, Obama is try­ing to boost sup­port from moderate Demo­cratic law­mak­ers, who could face the wrath of con­ser­va­tive vot­ers if they back their pres­i­dent’s plan.

“ We all know that this is ur­gent,” Obama said.

At stake is the Democrats’ stale­mated leg­is­la­tion to ex­tend cov­er­age to more than 30 mil­lion peo­ple who are now unin­sured.

Polls show Ame r i c a n s want their elected leaders to ad­dress the prob­lems of high med­i­cal costs, erod­ing ac­cess to cov­er­age and un­even qual­ity. But the pub­lic is split over the Democrats’ sweep­ing leg­is­la­tion, with its $1 tril­lion, 10-year price tag and many com­plex pro­vi­sions, in­clud­ing some that wouldn’t take ef­fect for an­other eight years — af­ter Obama has packed up and left the White House.

For Obama, the sum­mit is his chance to make a com­pelling clos­ing ar­gu­ment to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. If he suc­ceeds, Democrats will push ahead to pass the leg­is­la­tion with a pack­age of re­vi­sions he’s pro­posed.

If Obama fal­ters, an­other Demo­cratic pres­i­dent will have been hum­bled by health care.

He will have to ap­peal to both sides to at least give him a mod­est bill smooth­ing some of the rough edges from the cur­rent sys­tem.

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