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Kai Ryssdal: It has been a wild week or so in the political fight over how to overhaul the U.S. health-care system. First Senate Democrats decided to let 55 year olds buy into Medicare. Then that got undecided over the weekend by Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman. And then the president decided he needed to have a chat with everybody, which is how 60 members of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate found themselves at the White House today for some good old-fashioned political arm twisting.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the president said he is certain that once the American people find out what’s in the health-care bill, it’ll pass. And frankly, we’ve kind of lost track ourselves. So we figured, it was time for an update.
ANNOUNCER: Previously on Health Care Overhaul…
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Know this, I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than to improve it.
Then came death panels, rationing and grandma.
CHUCK GRASSLEY: We should not have a government program that determines you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.
Chuck Grassley, Republican senator. While the other Chuck, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, says he’d help grandma.
CHUCK SCHUMER: So you need to inject some competition into the insurance industry. The best way to do that is a public option, which is a moderate, modest proposal, sort of in the middle of public-option land.
Not on my watch, says Independent Senator from Connecticut Joe Lieberman.
JOE LIEBERMAN: The public option plan is unnecessary. It has been put forward, I’m convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance.
Joe wins, public option out. Medicare expansion in for the older uninsured.
RON WYDEN: Folks between 55 and 64 today, and 65, are essentially in a world of hurt.
Senator Ron Wyden.
And who’s gonna pay for all this, asks Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison?
Kay Bailey Hutchison: The reform that we’re going to see go into effect right away is huge tax increases.
CONGRESS MEMBERS: Are people going to pay more taxes because of this? Yes. No.
Senator Lieberman? Part 2.
LIEBERMAN: As a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote.
ANNOUNCER: Next time on Health Care Overhaul…
Government-run health care? Out. Government-managed health care? Maybe.
Mike JOHANNS: We should not be using federal funds for abortion.
Senator Mike Johanns. But here’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
HARRY REID: We understand that before year’s end we’re going to get comprehensive health-care reform.
“MIRACLE ON 34th STREET:” Oh, you don’t believe that, do you? Now coming your way for the holidays, “Miracle on 34th Street.”
Or Capitol Hill.