Senate Dems Struggle to Hold Agreement on HC Bill

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WASHINGTON -- The Democrats are going to try to pass health care through the Senate, but it may be easier said than done.

And there's more evidence that health care is hurting Democrats with the voters.

The Democratic leadership in the Senate is doing all they can to try to pass and gift wrap a health care bill before Christmas. But you have a handful of Democrats who may end up playing the role of "Ebenezer Scrooge."

At the front of the line is Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who is now on the record saying he'll vote with Republicans to block the bill if it's not to his satisfaction.

"Any bill that, that I could support would have to be able to be sure we didn't add to the deficit. That we don't add taxes. That we really do reduce the cost of, of the increasing cost of health care. That, that has to happen. And any bill that doesn't do that I just am not going to  be able to support," Nelson said.

That's scary talk for Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the Obama administration because they're going to need every Democratic senator on board to pass healthcare. Just one wayward senator can sink the bill. And to make matters even worse for supporters of health care reform, Nelson now says he wants the same strict pro-life language that was passed in the House bill.

"Any bill that I could support would have to make sure that it does not use federal dollars to fund abortions," Nelson said.

But initially, the Senate bill is expected to include language that would allow people who receive federal subsidies to buy health care plans that cover abortions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is calling the abortion issue a temporary distraction.

"Beware of any of these kinds of issues because the fact is they want to take your attention away," Pelosi said.

Abortion is just one major stumbling block but there are certainly others. You have Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., saying he'll vote against the bill if it has any sort of public option in it for a government-run insurance plan.

Then you have three Democrats who want to not even debate the bill until its full text has been posted on the Internet for three days. And now, Democratic officials are saying that Reid is considering higher payroll taxes on the wealthy in the Senate bill as an additional way of paying for health care reform.

The Republican party has tried to tie this health care reform effort by the Democrats directly to out of control fiscal spending. It may be working. The latest Gallup poll shows Republicans, for the first time with a 48 to 44 percent lead among registered voters in a generic ballot for the 2010 elections.

And among independents, the news is even better. By 52 percent to 30 percent, independents prefer a Republican candidate to the Democrat. It's enough to get Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama reaching for the Excedrin with one big giant headache.

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