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Obama Hedges on Timeline for Health Care Bill

President Barack Obama predicted that the Senate will pass health care legislation by Christmas, according to an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” But the president hedged an earlier timeline on getting a bill to his desk.The White House until a few days ago was saying that the final bill could still be passed by the House and the Senate and get to Obama’s desk before the end of the year. The president had earlier set a “deadline— of Dec. 31 for final passage.Obama’s statement seemed a recognition that the health care debate is likely to continue into 2010.Obama in the interview defended his approach of handing over the details of legislation to the Congress, asserting that the bill moving through Congress adheres to the “principles— that he laid out for legislation early in the year.The legislation “does all the things that I said and most experts said— are necessary to fix the health system, he said.The president also said that if the military strategy that the United States is pursuing in Afghanistan is not working by the time the scheduled drawdown begins in July 2011, he will change it. “If the approach that was recommended doesn’t work, then, yes, we are going to be changing approaches,— said Obama, who suggested that he had essentially adopted the strategy outlined for him by the Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal.Closer to home, Obama lashed out at the banking industry, charging that some were paying back Troubled Asset Relief Program money to escape restrictions on salaries governed by the money. And he objected to their lobbying against financial reform legislation on Capitol Hill after receiving billions of dollars in loans from taxpayers.“I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street,— he said.Obama even addressed the so-called White House party crashers. The president said he was “unhappy with everybody who was involved in the process— that allowed an uninvited couple to attend the White House State Dinner earlier this month.“That’s why it won’t happen again,— he said.

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