Obama's health care overhaul has a tough road ahead: NYT

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Washington, July 26 (ANI): In the wake of the US Senate Democratic leaders deciding to devote more time in winning Republican support for a health care overhaul, President Barack Obama must be relived that even the most contentious issue on his agenda would keep the hope of bipartisanship alive.

Obama is under growing pressure to choose between wooing a small band of Republicans or struggling to rally his party to use its big majorities in Congress to get the job done.

The bipartisanship exhibited in the passage of two other ambitious domestic programs that offer one historical backdrop for this debate - Social Security in 1935 and Medicare and Medicaid 30 years later - seems increasingly improbable in today's Washington, The New York Times opines.

To some extent, achieving any kind of bipartisan accord seems almost a luxury given the difficulties Obama has had in corralling his own party behind a health care plan, it adds.

Even if he goes the bipartisan route and succeeds, the end result could be comparatively modest: Perhaps fewer than 10 Senate Republicans, and perhaps not even that many in the House, party officials said. Social Security, by contrast, passed in 1935 with the support of 16 of the 25 Republican senators and 81 of the 102 Republican representatives.

"If Republicans don't make a genuine effort to negotiate to achieve health care reform, I certainly don't think there's a price to pay for doing it without them," the paper quoted Joel Benenson, the president's pollster, as saying.

Should Obama abandon efforts to reach out to Republicans, he risks damaging his appeal among independent voters, who have a history of being put off by overt partisanship, the report says.

"Technically he may be able to pass the bill in one of these big complex areas without bipartisan support, but it won't be as good a product, and I suspect he'll lose the support of the country in the process," said Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Republican conference.

"There's a huge price to be paid. Bipartisanship is absolutely possible and it's absolutely necessary, even when you have a Democratic president with huge majorities," he added. (ANI)

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