Washington (CNN) - Despite the bruising battle over their health care reform proposals, congressional Democrats have maintained an advantage over their Republican counterparts on one key measure, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that a bare majority of Americans, 51 percent, believe that the Democrats' policies are good for the country, with 46 percent saying that those policies would take the country in the wrong direction.
By contrast, 53 percent of people questioned in the poll say that the GOP's polices would move the nation in the wrong direction, with 42 percent saying Republican policies are good for the country.
"The numbers for both parties are virtually unchanged since late August, just before President Barack Obama's health care speech to Congress opened the latest round of debate on this divisive issue," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Washington (CNN) – House Democrats are already home for the holidays, but they huddled on a conference call Wednesday afternoon to discuss the next steps in negotiating a final health care bill with the Senate.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi restated the goal is to get a final bill to President Obama's desk before his State of the Union address in late January or early February, but admitted on the call that timeline could slip, according to two senior Democratic aides who were on the call.
Members made it clear to House leaders that they didn't want to simply accept the Senate bill, the aides said.
"Their point is that while both bills are a major step toward making affordable, quality health care available to all Americans, the House bill has quicker reform, is more affordable, and covers more people," according to one of the aides.
The Wednesday call follows a Tuesday meeting that Pelosi convened with other top House Democratic leaders and committee chairs via phone to map out the House's game plan for a conference with the Senate early next year. Although the House won't be in session until January 12, next week House staff will begin working through the differences on the two chambers' healthcare bills, according to several Democratic aides. Leaders and committee chairmen will return in early January for health care meetings. These aides were hesitant to get into specific details because the Senate hasn't passed a bill yet, but they emphasize that the House Democratic leaders will push hard for some key elements of their reform measure.
(CNN) –- Republican Scott Brown called on his Democratic opponent Martha Coakley Wednesday to agree to additional debates, as the two candidates for the late Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat prepared to campaign through the holidays in the run-up to next month’s special election.
“I understand that she has accepted some debates, but is dragging her feet on others,” Brown said at a news conference two days before Christmas. “Already, the League of Women Voters has cancelled a debate scheduled for Faneuil Hall because of her refusal to participate. Other debate sponsors have been unable to move forward with their plans because she has not responded to them.
“Let’s not limit the number of debates between us. There is too much at stake for our state and our nation.”
Washington (CNN) - It's after dinner. You're tired. You ease yourself into a comfortable place to watch your favorite TV show. Suddenly you're jolted from your couch potato demeanor by a commercial break.
It's an ad for insurance or rum or a credit card - and it's blaring, invading your calm and boosting your blood pressure.
Marketers want the loud commercials to grab viewers' attention.
A California congresswoman, however - and her fellow politicians in the House - find them more annoying than effective.
In her crusade to eliminate the nuisance, Rep. Anna Eshoo authored the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, which mandates that TV commercials be no louder than the programs in which they appear.
Representatives unanimously passed the bill last month and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
Washington (CNN) – On the eve of the Senate’s landmark health care vote, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch called the legislation a “lousy bill” that “could wreck our country.”
The Utah Republican told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux Wednesday that Democrats have an “arrogance of power” thanks to their 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority and that “they think that they can do whatever they want regardless of what's right or what's wrong.” He said he wished that there had been more bipartisanship, and that his party needed to have more say in the overall bill.
“If it's just a straight partisan bill that's this important, then you know it's a lousy bill,” Hatch said. “And I can tell you, this is one lousy bill. They can be very proud of what they've done, except that what they've done could wreck our country. And I think we've got to all stand up and start letting them hear from us.”
Hatch again accused his Democratic colleagues of getting special deals – in the form of millions of extra dollars for their states – in return for their votes for cloture. Hatch received $50 million for his amendment for abstinence-only education, but drew a distinction on that funding, because he said he “didn't do that for me. I did that for our children throughout our society.”
The Senate voted 60-39 along party lines to set a timetable for likely passage of the bill early Thursday morning.
Democrats also turned back last-ditch motions from Republicans claiming various provisions in the bill, including a mandate that individuals purchase coverage, are unconstitutional.
"It's long past time we declare health care a right and not a privilege," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said after the vote.
"Today is a victory ... for American families," proclaimed Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana. "Americans won."
The expected victory for President Obama's top domestic priority comes after nearly a year of sharply polarized deliberations on Capitol Hill. Any measure passed by the Senate, however, will still have to be merged with a $1 trillion plan approved by the House of Representatives in November.
(CNN) - Teresa Heinz-Kerry, the wife of Sen. John Kerry, is battling breast cancer first discovered by an annual mammogram earlier this year, she announced in a Pittsburgh-Post Gazette Op-Ed Wednesday.
A spokesman from the Heinz Family Philanthropies confirmed to CNN Heinz-Kerry does have cancer.
Heinz-Kerry writes she was diagnosed and treated for stage one cancer in both breasts, first detected at an early stage during an annual mammogram. According to Heinz-Kerry, she has had two operations and her prognosis for a full recovery is good.
In the Op-Ed, the 71-year-old Heinz-Kerry also said an annual mammogram is vital to a positive prognosis, and made clear she sharply disagreed with a federal panel recommendation last month that women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year.
"The members of the task force were predisposed to choose numbers over people and their recommendations forgot that women do not need more excuses not to get a mammogram at regular intervals, as determined by their doctors," Heinz-Kerry writes. "Our busy lives are full of those. What we need are more reasons to keep those appointments, more support of the value of prevention and refinement of diagnostic procedures, and more choices."
"I am not a doctor or medical expert, but it is neither the doctors nor the experts to whom I wish to speak here. It is, rather, to all the women who have been left confused by this latest report, and to all those who love them," she added.
The Department of Health and Human Services has said it did not endorse the government panel's recommendation and continues to urge for annual mammograms.
(Updated with Heinz-Kerry's Op-Ed comments)
– CNN's Bob Crowley contributed to this report
Washington (CNN) – The Senate health care bill is not worthy of the historic vote that the House took a month ago.
Even though the House version is far from perfect, it at least represents a step toward our goal of giving 36 million Americans decent health coverage.
But under the Senate plan, millions of Americans will be forced into private insurance company plans, which will be subsidized by taxpayers. That alternative will do almost nothing to reform health care but will be a windfall for insurance companies. Is it any surprise that stock prices for some of those insurers are up recently?
I do not want to subsidize the private insurance market; the whole point of creating a government option is to bring prices down. Insisting on a government mandate to have insurance without a better alternative to the status quo is not true reform.
By eliminating the public option, the government program that could spark competition within the health insurance industry, the Senate has ended up with a bill that isn't worthy of its support.