HEADLINES -- February 22, 2010 at 8:55 AM ET
Monday's Headlines: Health Care Plans; Afghan Civilians Killed; Toyota Hearing
The Obama administration on Monday is set to outline a package of proposals aimed at salvaging the stalled health care reform effort, including a measure that would provide the federal government new powers to block excessive hikes in insurance premiums.
The measure would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to either deny, limit or demand consumer rebates for exorbitant increases, such as the 39 percent hike facing Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield policyholders in California.
The administration's plan, set to be posted on the White House Web site at 10 a.m., comes ahead of Thursday's health care summit that the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne Jr. says "will determine the shape of American politics for the next three years." He writes:
"The issue is whether the summit proves to be the turning point in a political year that is moving decisively in the Republicans' direction. If the summit fails to shake things up and does not lead to the passage of a comprehensive health-care bill, Democrats and Obama are in for a miserable time for the rest of his term."
A NATO airstrike aimed at a suspected insurgent convoy has instead killed at least 27 civilians in southern Afghanistan. The airstrike occurred in Uruzgan province, north of the massive U.S. led offensive in Marjah that left another 12 civilians dead last week.
Limiting civilian deaths has been a major focus of allied forces in Afghanistan. Todd Bowers, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, told the NewsHour's Judy Woodruff on Friday that allied forces continually struggle to identify an enemy hidden within the civilian population.
"It is very difficult, because they literally have living camouflage that they are able to blend in with," Bowers said. "It makes it extremely difficult for the troops on the ground."
Congress is back in session this week, and among the items on its agenda will be hearings on the Toyota recall. Company officials, including president Akio Toyoda, head to Capitol Hill beginning Tuesday with a team of lobbyists and a history of political giving, according to Monday's Washington Post. They'll be sure to face questions over an internal document obtained by Congress hailing as a "win" the company's ability to lobby for a limited recall last year of 55,000 Lexus ES and Toyota Camry vehicles.