There's $600 million in Medicaid payments to Vermont, $100 million for a Connecticut hospital, and the infamous "Cornhusker Kickback," among others, and President Obama wants to yank those porky projects from the health care bill. Democratic senators, being senators, beg to differ. "We're going to do what we have to do to get a bill out of the House and Senate," says a spokesman for Harry Reid. As for Obama's wish list : "We'll certainly keep it in mind as we pull together a final bill."
"The president's position in the final legislation should not contain provisions that favor a single state or a district," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says. There are exceptions. Louisiana's $300 million, which helped win support from moderate Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., will likely survive to help Katrina recovery efforts. But there's pushback elsewhere, as in Vermont, which has already boosted Medicaid benefits. "What I told Harry Reid is that Vermont does the right thing, and I don't want Vermont to be penalized for doing the right thing," says Pat Leahy.