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President Barack Obama pointed Friday to a "bipartisan" legislative success, at the end of a week in which his economic stimulus bill triggered a partisan divide.
The president hailed the Senate's passage of a bill to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by more than $32 billion over five years.
"As the worsening economy causes families to lose their jobs and health insurance, it is vital that we redouble our efforts to ensure that every child in America has access to affordable health care," the president said in a statement.
"That is why I am pleased that the Senate has joined the House in passing bipartisan legislation to provide health insurance to children whose families have been hurt most by this downturn."
The vote in the Senate was 66-32. All those voting against the bill were Republicans, but nine Republicans voted in favor.
The bill now moves to the House. Although the House passed a similar bill earlier this month, the Senate made a change involving physician-owned hospitals, so the House will vote again.
SCHIP covers more than 6 million children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid — the federal health insurance program for the poor — but who can't afford private insurance.
The bill's supporters say it would extend the program to an estimated 4 million additional children, paying for it with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal tax on cigarettes.
Opponents argued that, among other things, it will allow undocumented immigrants to illegally access taxpayer-financed healthcare, and is insufficiently funded.
President Barack Obama – on his second day in office – signed executive orders to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year, to ban the harshest interrogation methods, and to establish procedures for handling future detainees. Much of the world welcomed the new U.S. president’s initiatives, but questions remain over where the remaining Guantanamo detainees will be tried and where those who are freed can safely be relocated.
As a community organizer in the Altgeld Gardens public housing project in the mid-1980s, Obama, then 23, quickly emerged as a tireless and pragmatic advocate for the community—traits that characterize the kind of president he says he wants to be. "His work as a community organizer was really a defining moment in his life, not just his career," his wife, Michelle, told U.S. News. It helped him decide "how he would impact the world"—assisting people in defining their mutual interests and working together to improve their lives.
After graduating from Columbia University in 1983 with a major in political science, Obama worked as a financial consultant in New York City. But he was bored—and drawn to public service. In 1985, he moved to Chicago to work with local churches organizing job training and other programs for poor and working-class residents of Altgeld Gardens, a public housing project where 5,300 African-Americans tried to survive amid shuttered steel mills, a nearby landfill, a putrid sewage treatment plant, and a pervasive feeling that the white establishment of Chicago would never give them a fair shake.
Jerry Kellman, a social activist who recruited Obama, recalls, "He was very bright, very articulate, very personable, and very idealistic," inspired by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy of nonviolence. Kellman offered Obama a job at the annual salary of $10,000, and he threw in $2,000 so Obama could buy a ramshackle car to get around.
SCHIP Bill: Top 10 Changes for Congress to Consider
The new SCHIP bill would not only make comprehensive health care reform more difficult; it would also directly undercut President Obama's promise to end special interest earmarks. Once Congress creates a new government benefit, it would be very difficult to reverse course. In this case, Congress would be taking more healthy lives out of the private health insurance pool, thus reducing private coverage, increasing taxpayer burdens, and undercutting the ability of the private sector to maintain or expand coverage later.
Change #8: Root Out Special Interest Earmarks. The legislation flatly contradicts presidential and congressional pledges to eliminate earmarks. Individual states and providers will receive special treatment through a variety of provisions. If the new Congress and Administration are serious about change and delivering on promises to end earmarks for special interests, such provisions should not be included.
The Obama-Biden Administration is committed to bringing new levels of openness, transparency, and participation to our government. That’s why the President has pledged to post all nonemergency bills that come before his desk on WhiteHouse.gov for five days, where members of the public will be able to read, review, and comment before he takes any action on them.
We recognize that Obama has been in office just a week, but he was very clear about his plan for a five-day comment period, and we can't see why this one needed to be rushed. It is somewhat ironic that with the same action, Obama both keeps and breaks a campaign promise. But there it is -- his first one. Promise Broken.
Originally posted by ravenshadow13
reply to post by jibeho
Right, but he still went to talk to them, and they all expressed their ideas and concerns and he listened. In the future, he may use their ideas to create a better plan.
The big deal is that he did not need to talk to the republicans at all, and most politicians would not have bothered.
didn't Clinton leave the government with a huge surplus?
Originally posted by ravenshadow13
reply to post by protected
I hadn't actually heard about that one. Well, it's good that he proposed it in the first place. There's a lot going on, and rewording the procedures for passing bills is important, but I'm sure right now the economy is more important. Obama probably has thought about it.
It's not like it won't happen, it's just not happening as fast as we would have liked.