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Entitlements Group Disbands, Unresolved

A COMMISSION formed to recommend ways to attack deficit spending through entitlement reform is disbanding in disagreement. The Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, led by Sen. Robert Kerrey (D) of Nebraska and outgoing Sen. John Danforth (R) of Missouri, spent 10 months searching for ways to slow the growth of such programs as Social Security and Medicare.

The commission's disagreement comes as bad news for efforts by the Clinton administration and Congress to cut middle-class taxes. In a letter, the group urged both branches of government to make tax and spending decisions by looking at their impact over 30 years, rather than the five-year period used now.

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Senators Kerrey and Danforth had proposed raising the retirement age to 70 over time, cutting the growth of Medicare and Social Security benefits in the next century, and limiting popular tax deductions for better-off people.

The commission concluded that at the present rate, the deficit will grow from 2.3 percent of the nation's economy now to 18.9 percent by 2030.

Health care still an issue

new poll suggests Americans still want health-insurance reform, but are skeptical it will happen.

The survey, conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz, found Republicans received most of the blame for Congress's failure to pass health-care reform this year, followed by the health-insurance industry. But asked to choose sight unseen between a GOP-backed plan and one endorsed by the president, the Republican approach won out by a 44 to 32 percent margin.

Voters surveyed rated health-care reform as a higher priority than tax cuts.

Money didn't buy this Senate seat

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he most expensive Senate race in history is officially over.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's victory over her Republican challenger, Rep. Michael Huffington, was certified Wednesday by California's Acting Secretary of State Tony Miller.

In the end, Senator Feinstein won by 1.9 percent of votes cast. Mr. Huffington is still investigating reports of massive voter fraud. Huffington spent a record $29 million on his losing campaign, including an unprecedented $27.5 million of his own money, outspending Feinstein by a 2.5 to 1 margin. Combined expenditures topped $41.4 million.

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