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BUSH ASSURES HE'LL VETO KIDS INSURANCE BILL

Published Sep. 29, 2007|Updated Sep. 29, 2007

WASHINGTON

President Bush insisted to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday that he's going ahead with his promised veto of a major expansion of a children's health program despite its overwhelming approval by Congress. Pelosi, D-Calif., said she told Bush that she was praying he would change his mind. "I think I have to pray a little harder," she said.

Murtha lawsuit can proceed

A federal judge refused Friday to dismiss a defamation case against Rep. John Murtha and ordered the Pennsylvania Democrat to give a sworn deposition in the case. A Marine Corps sergeant is suing the 18-term congressman for alleging "cold-blooded murder and war crimes" by unnamed soldiers in connection with the deaths of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha. Murtha's office declined to comment on the ruling. Murtha, a Vietnam veteran and retired Marine Reserves colonel, has said his intention was to draw attention to the pressure put on troops in Iraq and efforts to cover up the incident.

Medicare help line not as helpful

Customer satisfaction with a toll-free help line for Medicare beneficiaries appears to be dropping based on interviews conducted early this year by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services. The line, 1-800-633-4227, is a critical resource used by millions of elderly and disabled Americans, as well as their family members; on some days calls can exceed 100,000. Investigators found a satisfaction rate of 71 percent, which is a drop of 13 percentage points when compared with a similar series of interviews conducted three years earlier. Volume to the hotline has increased significantly as the Bush administration rolled out a new drug benefit under Medicare. More than one in five callers hung up before having their questions answered. Two-thirds of those who hung up did so because of long wait times.

ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Clinton proposesbaby school bonds

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that every child born in the United States should get a $5,000 "baby bond" from the government to help pay for future costs of college or buying a home. Republican rival Rudy Giuliani criticized the idea, saying the Clinton campaign is "based on pandering to the point where I think they think the American people are stupid.". ... Democrat John Edwards criticized Rush Limbaugh for referring to members of the military who have spoken out against the war as "phony soldiers." ... Party leaders in Iowa are edging toward holding the state's leadoff caucuses as early as Jan. 3.