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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Public views on health care reform remain steady

The public’s views on health care have stayed largely steady this year, despite dramatic swings in the political battle over President Barack Obama’s drive to revamp the nation’s medical system, a survey says.

Overall, 82 percent say an overhaul of the nation’s health care system is important for recharging the economy, according to an average of monthly polls conducted since April by the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The most recent survey, covering November, found that 77 percent agree with that connection.

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Abortion still a sticky point in health care bill

Twice now, abortion was almost a dealbreaker. This time, it was a dealmaker. But of hundreds of deals cut so health care legislation can stay alive, the hardest to keep may be the Senate’s abortion compromise — achieved after 13 hours of negotiation. The volatile issue remains the biggest threat to getting a history-making bill to President Barack Obama.

Deals are the lifeblood of legislation. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana got $100 million more for her state, Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman stripped the bill of a government insurance plan and Ben Nelson won a slew of favors for Nebraska — all in exchange for their votes.

Nelson was also pivotal in the abortion compromise. The abortion-rights foe cast the 60th vote Monday to prevent Republicans from burying the bill.

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Obama finally names a new cyber coordinator

The White House has tapped a corporate cyber security expert and former Bush administration official to lead the effort to shore up the country’s computer networks and better coordinate with companies that operate 80 percent of those critical systems.

Howard A. Schmidt, a former eBay and Microsoft executive, will become the government’s cyber security coordinator, weathering a rocky selection process that dragged on for months, as others turned the job down.

President Barack Obama is expected to make the announcement Tuesday, according to a senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made public yet.

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Senate gears up for second crucial vote on health care

One 60-vote hurdle down, two to go for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul in the Senate.

The second vote was set for early Tuesday morning as exhausted but happy Democratic leaders pushed the landmark legislation toward passage before Christmas.

The outcome of the vote to overcome GOP opposition to the 2,074-page legislation is preordained. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has herded 58 Democrats and two independents into line through a combination of wheedling, cajoling and dispensing special deals. The strategy has Republicans irate but Reid makes no apologies.

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