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Democrats Step Up Campaign Against Health-Care Cuts Republicans Want To Trim $450 Billion From Medicare, Medicaid Programs

Thwarted by Republicans at every turn, Democrats from the White House to the statehouse joined their congressional colleagues Wednesday in attempts to block GOP plans for $450 billion in health-care cutbacks at a later point along the legislative road.

Majority Republicans ignored Democratic complaints and overcame parliamentary delaying tactics Wednesday as the House Commerce Committee reviewed the day-old House Republican plan for some $180 billion in cutbacks from Medicaid for the poor.

Though the committee held seven hearings on Medicaid, it held none on its own plan.

Meanwhile, Rep. Sam Gibbons, D-Fla., described Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee as “a bunch of dictators” and “a bunch of fascists” during a hallway spat over their refusal to let him speak during a meeting.

At that meeting, the Republican majority decided to delay until Friday its only hearing on how to save $270 billion from Medicare under a plan the Republicans have not revealed.

Even Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., the Clark-Kentish minority leader who had cooperated with Republicans in reshaping and gaining approval of controversial welfare reforms, began issuing Superman-style threats.

“We’re going to have vetoes. We’re going to have filibusters,” he predicted. “If we have to shut the place down, we’ll do it to stop the Draconian and extraordinarily devastating consequences” of GOP health-care plans.

The proposed cuts “are simply too large,” agreed the 20-member Democratic Governors’ Association in a statement sent to congressional leaders. At least five of the 30 Republican governors also have their own objections to the House GOP’s Medicaid plan. That means the nation’s 50 governors are split on the issue.

In Denver, meanwhile, President Clinton attacked the House Medicaid plan in a talk to residents of the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged.

“The plan proposed in Congress, we estimate, could mean that up to 300,000 American senior citizens, who today are eligible to go into nursing homes, won’t be eligible in just a few years,” Clinton said.

“And over a million who get services in their own homes … won’t be able to get those services, not to mention the 30 percent of the program that goes to help the very poorest children in the United States today.”

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