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The push to change the nation's health care system has gained a little more support. Leaders of organized labor say they will go along with a plan to tax expensive health insurance plans, so-called Cadillac plans. The labor unions say they've won some concessions designed to shield middle-class families. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.
SCOTT HORSLEY: Labor leaders threatened to oppose the health care bill if it included such a tax, a potentially embarrassing setback for the president. The administration managed to put together a compromise, and a confident Mr. Obama spoke to House Democrats last night.
BARACK OBAMA: Today, we are on the doorstep of accomplishing something that Washington has been talking about since Teddy Roosevelt was president, and that is reforming health care and health insurance here in America. Now...
HORSLEY: All of those adjustments mean the tax would raise less money for expanding health care coverage. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was happy that a deal was made.
NANCY PELOSI: It just says that we are making progress to get closer to reconciling the House and Senate bills.
HORSLEY: For all the progress they've made, though, Democrats are not exactly in a celebratory mood. Mr. Obama acknowledged as much in thanking House members for their efforts.
OBAMA: Believe me, I know how big a lift this has been.
HORSLEY: Mr. Obama said he reads the polls and catches the occasional story on cable TV showing sinking public support for the health care plan. Congressional scholar Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution says over the last year, sometimes unruly House Democrats have generally stuck by their president, despite those concerns.
THOMAS MANN: The reality is they have a shared political fate. And Obama has to make the case that they've got to stick together, because divided they will all almost certainly fail.
HORSLEY: Mr. Obama expressed confidence that voters will like the health care plan better once it's signed into law and they're able to see for themselves what it does and doesn't do. He promised to campaign on behalf of the bill's consumer protections from one end of the country to the other.
OBAMA: If the Republicans want to campaign against what we've done by standing up for the status quo and for insurance companies over American families and businesses, that is a fight I want to have.
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HORSLEY: House Democrats devoted much of their two-day issues retreat this week to economic policymaking, and Mr. Obama pledged that will be his focus in the new year, as well.
OBAMA: We are going to have a sustained and relentless focus over the next several months on accelerating the pace of job creation, because that's priority number one.
HORSLEY: Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.
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