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Trump presses Democrats on Obamacare, calls for bipartisan fix

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U.S. Republican President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday kept up his attacks on Democrats and Obamacare while calling for a bipartisan effort in Congress to come up with a healthcare alternative that would lower costs and improve care.

In a series of tweets, Trump, who takes office later this month, blasted Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer and his fellow Democrats, who have vowed to preserve President Barack Obama’s legacy-defining healthcare law even as Republicans move ahead with their long-sought bid to scrap it.

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“The Democrats, lead by head clown Chuck Schumer, know how bad ObamaCare is and what a mess they are in. Instead of working to fix it, they do the typical political thing and BLAME,” Trump tweeted.

“It is time for Republicans & Democrats to get together and come up with a healthcare plan that really works – much less expensive & FAR BETTER!” he added.

Schumer ramped up his attacks on Trump’s planned healthcare overhaul on Thursday, calling for a congressional investigation into the president-elect’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Representative Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, over his reported stock trades in healthcare companies.

On Wednesday, Obama met with Democrats on Capitol Hill as they formed a strategy that appeared aimed at warning that Republicans risk throwing the entire U.S. healthcare system into disarray by dismantling the Affordable Care Act, without a plan to replace it.

With no replacement by Republicans, as early as 2018 the roughly 20 million people who gained health insurance under the law could see their coverage in jeopardy.

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Vice President-elect Mike Pence, after separately meeting with Republicans who control both the House and Senate, said on Wednesday repealing the 2010 law was the “first order of business” of the Trump administration.

Republicans criticize Obamacare as an excessive government intrusion into the healthcare market and contend it is harming job growth by burdening businesses. They say they have a plan to replace it but have offered few details.

Pence said Trump would work with congressional leaders to ensure a smooth health care transition through legislation and executive action.

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Democrats acknowledge they lack the votes to stop repeal legislation being pushed by Republicans, who will control the White House and both chambers of Congress when Trump takes office.

On Thursday, Schumer and other top Democrats on the Senate health and finance committees planned a morning press conference to call for a House Office of Congressional Ethics investigation into Price’s investments.

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Price, an orthopedic surgeon, traded more than $300,000 in stocks of health-related companies over four years, the Wall Street Journal reported in late December, while advocating legislation that potentially could have affected their stock prices.

(Reporting by Rick Cowan, Susan Cornwell, Susan Heavey and David Alexander; Editing by Peter Cooney and Jeffrey Benkoe)


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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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