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POLITICS: PennAve

White House week ahead: Obamacare woes, Iran talks

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President Obama will spend this week working to assure the public that his signature health care law remains viable and on course while trying to salvage negotiations with Iran over freezing the development of its nuclear program.

Obama will continue picking up the pieces this week for the many problems of Obamacare’s six-week rollout after being forced to apologize for his broken promise that Americans would be able to keep the insurance plans they had and over a healthcare.gov enrollment website beset by glitches.

The president’s mea culpa and pledge to take executive action to allow people with cancelled plans to keep them hasn’t stopped vulnerable Democrats in red-states from pursuing a legislative fix.

On Friday, nearly 40 Democrats joined in supporting a GOP-leadership backed bill sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., that would allow insurers for the next year to continue offering plans that don't comply with the new health care law and were already cancelled or poised to be.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., meanwhile, will push ahead with a bill that would allow insurers to continue to offer non-compliant plans in perpetuity – something outside experts say could very well destabilize the health care law by preventing a significant portion of the population from joining the federal exchanges.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the U.S., its western allies and Iran will continue on Wednesday in Geneva. Secretary of State John Kerry plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the talks resume Wednesday after a 10-day break.

Kerry is under increasing pressure from Netanyahu and key members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who want the U.S. to get tougher in talks with Iran. Several lawmakers are also threatening a new round of sanctions to ratchet up the pressure and show Tehran that the U.S. is serious about winning significant concessions.

Netanyahu on CNN Sunday criticized the U.S. for pursuing a partial, preliminary deal with Iran that would ease some sanctions if Tehran drops its level of enrichment from 20 percent to 3 percent. The U.S. would monitor Iran’s compliance after six months and pursue more concessions for additional sanctions relief.

“I think the problem with a partial deal is that you reduce the sanctions, and in this case ... you let out a lot of pressure,” he told CNN's Candy Crowley Sunday on “State of the Union.” “And Iran is practically giving away nothing. It's making minor concessions, which they can reverse in weeks, and you endanger the whole sanctions regime that took years to make.”

On Tuesday, Obama will join more than 100 global chief executives at the annual meeting of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, D.C. The president will make brief remarks followed by an interview with a WSJ editor.

Other speakers who are scheduled to take the stage at the two-day event include Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.; Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew; Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank.

The following day, Obama will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to 16 individuals, including former President Bill Clinton.

All eyes will be watching the interactions between Obama and Clinton, who thrust himself into the ongoing debate over Obamacare last week by advising president to keep his promise that Americans who like their health insurance will be able to keep it in spite of the new regulations the Affordable Care Act created.

Among the others receiving the award are: Oprah Winfrey, baseball legend Ernie Banks; country music star Loretta Lynn; former GOP Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana; Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of the Washington Post; Gloria Steinem, a leader in the women’s equality movement; as well as Sally Ride; the first woman to travel to space and former Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii. Ride and Inouye will be receiving the award posthumously.

On Friday, Obama will host King Mohammed VI of Morocco and the two leaders will discuss U.S. support for Morocco’s democratic and economic reforms, as well as countering extremism and economic development in the Middle East and Africa.

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