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Obama: ‘Senate Has Moved Us Closer to Reform’

President Barack Obama on Monday praised the Senate for clearing a key hurdle after midnight Sunday on the health care reform package, calling it a victory against “special interests— that will reduce costs and the deficit.“By standing up to the special interests — who’ve prevented reform for decades and who are furiously lobbying against it now — the Senate has moved us closer to reform that makes a tremendous difference for families, for seniors, for businesses and for the country as a whole,— Obama said in remarks at the White House. “Small businesses and those who don’t get insurance through their employer will finally be able to get insurance at a price that they can afford with tax credits to help,— he said. “And Medicare will be stronger and its solvency extended by nearly a decade.—The president defended the $871 billion bill against critics who say it costs too much. “I just want to be clear: For all those who are continually carping about how this is somehow a big-spending government bill, this cuts our deficit by $132 billion the first 10 years, and by over a trillion in the second,— Obama said. In a statement, a Senate Republican spokesman noted that the Congressional Budget Office has said there is some uncertainty with the cost estimates after 2019. Opponents have also argued that savings described in the first decade are unrealistic or based on faulty math.Obama spoke at an event where he announced that federal agencies had found some $19 billion in savings this year in payments to government contractors. “Over the past six months, agencies have been making cuts by looking for better deals, by ending contracts and doing work in-house, and by opening up no-bid contracts to competitive bidding,— Obama said.The White House also announced Monday that Obama had signed the Defense appropriations bill for fiscal 2010.

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