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Representative Waters throws down the gauntlet on healthcare

LA Times - U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) said she would refuse to vote for a healthcare reform package that did not include a provision for creating a government-run medical insurance plan that would compete with private insurers -- a statement that drew loud cheers Saturday at a town hall meeting at Los Angeles Southwest College.

The statement appeared to illustrate hardening lines in the battle over healthcare reform in Congress. Waters voiced dismay with comments made by White House officials last week that have been widely perceived as backing down from the so-called public option.

"President Obama has been trying to reach across the aisle" to win a compromise with Republicans, Waters said. "It is not going to happen."

Then Waters made a public appeal to Obama.

"The people of this country elected you and gave you a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate. . . . Yes, we know that you are a nice man, that you want to work with the opposite side of the aisle. But there comes a time when you need to drop that and move forward," Waters said. "We're saying to you, Mr. President, 'Be tough. Use everything that you've got. Do what you have to do. And we have your back.' "

Waters reserved her most searing critiques for Senate Democrats who have not embraced the public option.

"Not only are we going to do everything we can to organize and put pressure on the senators -- some of whom are Neanderthals -- we're going to say to the president, 'We want you to use every weapon in your basket in order to get those senators to do what they should be doing,' " Waters said. Read more.

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