Obama: Unity on Agenda Eludes Democrat Party Leaders

Democratic leaders in Congress did not expect much Republican support as they pressed President Obama’s ambitious legislative agenda. But the pushback they are receiving from some of their own has come as an unwelcome surprise. 

By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post

As the Senate inches closer to approving a $410 billion spending bill, the internal revolt has served as a warning to party leaders pursuing Obama’s far-reaching plans for health-care, energy and education reform.

Those goals, spelled out in Obama’s 2010 budget blueprint, continue to enjoy broad Democratic support. But as the ideas develop into detailed legislation, they will transform from abstract objectives into a tangle of difficult trade-offs. Crop subsidies, the student loan program and Medicare radiology rules are all currently niche concerns, but any one could become the next crisis for party leaders, with the potential to derail a major agenda item. One major proposal, to limit itemized deductions for wealthy taxpayers, has already raised doubts among prominent Democrats in both chambers.

Some issues that inflamed Democrats in previous years have yet to even register, including the proposal in Obama’s budget plan to “means-test” the Medicare drug benefit as a way to pay for health-care reform. Doling out entitlement benefits based on income has long been anathema to most Democrats.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con
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