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Other News: Markets Rise, Obama Resumes Push for Health Care Reform

July 13, 2009 at 6:20 PM EDT
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In other news, the Dow Jones industrial average made significant gains after an analyst expressed optimism for the banking industry, and President Obama warned Congress not to delay or block passage of comprehensive health care reform.
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, Wall Street rallied after a leading analyst voiced new hopes for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 185 points to close at 8,331. The Nasdaq rose 37 points to close at 1,793.

The federal fiscal year is 9 months old, and the deficit has already topped $1 trillion. The Treasury Department announced that record number today. It was mainly due to huge federal stimulus spending and the ongoing cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Obama has returned to Washington and the health care debate after a week out of the country. While he was gone, his plan ran into growing resistance over cost and other issues.

But today in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Obama insisted he will not accept failure.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I just want to put everybody on notice, because there was a lot of chatter during the week that I was gone: We are going to get this done. Inaction is not an option.

And for those naysayers and cynics who think that this is not going to happen, don’t bet against us. We are going to make this thing happen, because the American people desperately need it.

JIM LEHRER: Senate Democrats have signaled a health care vote is unlikely before the August recess, but a White House spokesman said the president may ask Congress to stay and keep working.

The president also named his choice for surgeon general today. She is Dr. Regina Benjamin from the Alabama Gulf Coast. She’s made headlines as a country doctor who rebuilt a nonprofit clinic after Hurricane Katrina. Today, Benjamin pledged to fight preventable diseases, the kind that killed her father, brother, and mother.

DR. REGINA BENJAMIN, surgeon general-designate: My family is not here with me today, at least not in person, because of preventable diseases. While I can’t or I cannot change my family’s past, I can be a voice in the movement to improve our nation’s health care and our nation’s health for the future.

JIM LEHRER: Benjamin was also the first black woman and the youngest doctor ever elected to the American Medical Association’s board. Her nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has pancreatic cancer; that word came today in news reports from South Korea. They said Kim was diagnosed with the cancer around the same time he apparently had a stroke last year. In footage last week, Kim appeared gaunt, and he walked with a limp, fueling speculation about his health. He is 67 years old.

In Iraq, an investigation began into a bombing that narrowly missed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill. The roadside blast went off near Hill’s convoy as it drove through a province in southern Iraq on Sunday. The ambassador was not hurt.

There was an American death in Afghanistan. The U.S. military said a U.S. servicemember was killed in the eastern part of the country on Sunday. So far this year, at least 105 Americans have died in Afghanistan, including two more U.S. Marines killed on Saturday. The total was 151 for all of last year.