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  Obama "Cautiously Optimistic" About Health Reform  
 

President Obama Tuesday met with Senate Democrats at the White House to discuss healthcare reform. While reports reflect the President's statements cautious optimism and his effort to infuse his fellow Democrats with an added sense of urgency about the legislation, a number of analyses cast doubt on prospects for passage before Christmas. ABC World News (12/15, lead story, 2:30, Gibson) reported, "The President said [Tuesday] he is cautiously optimistic he'll be able to sign a bill by Christmas. But that's less than two weeks away -- not much time" and "not many good omens." ABC (Karl) added, "There is a reason the President is only cautiously optimistic. Even after his forceful message today, Democrats still don't have the 60 votes they need to pass the bill."

        McClatchy (12/16, Lightman) reports that "Obama tried mightily Tuesday to jolt the Senate's stalled healthcare overhaul effort, but after an hour-long closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats, the fate of his top 2009 domestic priority remains unclear." McClatchy adds that "time for pre-Christmas action is running out...because Senate rules are likely to require several days of procedural votes that will need 60 members to cut off debate." Moreover, "many Democrats remained circumspect about the bill." Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) said Tuesday, "We're all being urged to vote for something and we don't know the details of what's in it."

 

        The New York Times (12/16, A32, Stolberg, Pear) notes that Obama "is confronting an increasingly sharp divide on the Democratic left, with liberals in the Senate and the House split on a critical question: How much of what they want is enough?" Senate "liberals signaled on Tuesday that they would hold their noses and vote for a version of the measure that would strip out some of their most cherished provisions, including an expansion of Medicare and the possibility of a government-run insurance plan." But "the House seemed unwilling to fall in line. The majority leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer (D) of Maryland, said flatly on Tuesday that the House would not 'simply take the Senate bill' and adopt it unchanged."

 

        The Washington Times (12/16, Haberkorn) reports, "Obama told reporters after the meeting that the Senate's bill...meets all the standards that he originally requested in an address to a joint session of Congress in September." However, "he also acknowledged that the emerging compromise will not make all his fellow Democrats happy." Obama said, "The final bill won't include everything that everybody wants." He added, "No bill can do that. But what I told my former colleagues today is that we simply cannot allow differences over individual elements of this plan to prevent us from meeting our responsibility to solve a long-standing and urgent problem for the American people."

 

        The Boston Globe (12/16, A1, Wangsness, Milligan) covers the story on its front page. AFP (12/16, Knox), the Wall Street Journal (12/16, Hitt, Adamy, subscription required), Roll Call (12/16, Drucker, Pierce, subscription required), and The Hill (12/16, Zimmermann, subscription required) also report on the White House meeting.

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