Friday, January 29, 2010

Depends what you call it

I
just applied for a building permit for a new house.



It
was going to be 100 ft tall and 400 ft wide with 9 turrets at various
heights and windows all over the place and a loud outside entertainment
sound system.



It would have parking for 200 cars and I was going to paint it green
with tatty pink trim.



The City Council told me to bugger off.



So I sent in the application again, but this time I called it a Mosque.




Work starts on Monday...

Workers over 50 to be RAPED, SHAFTED AND SCREWED

Due to the current financial situation caused by the slowdown in the
economy, Congress has decided to implement a scheme to put workers of 50
years of age and above on early retirement, thus creating job openings for
younger workers and reducing unemployment.

This scheme will be known as RAPE (Retire Aged People Early).

Persons selected to be RAPED can apply to Congress to be considered for
the SHAFT program (Special Help After Forced Termination).

Persons who have been RAPED and SHAFTED will be reviewed under the SCREW
program (System Covering Retired-Early Workers).

A person may be RAPED once, SHAFTED twice and SCREWED as many times as
Congress deems appropriate.

Persons who have been RAPED could get AIDS (Additional Income for
Dependents & Spouse) or HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel Early
Severance).

Obviously persons who have AIDS or HERPES will not be SHAFTED or SCREWED
any further by Congress.

Persons who are not RAPED and are staying on will receive as much SHIT
(Special High Intensity Training) as possible. Congress has always prided
themselves on the amount of SHIT they give our citizens.

Should you feel that you do not receive enough SHIT, please bring this to
the attention of your Congressman, who has been trained to give you all the
SHIT you can handle.

Sincerely,

The Committee for Economic Value of Individual Lives (E.V.I.L.)

PS - - Due to recent budget cuts and the rising cost of electricity, gas
and oil, as well as current market conditions, the Light at the End of the
Tunnel has been turned off.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gray's Elegy

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
by Thomas Gray

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where thro' the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.

Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing, ling'ring look behind?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.

For thee, who mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
"Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.

"One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

"The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow thro' the church-way path we saw him borne.
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."

THE EPITAPH

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,
He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose)
The bosom of his Father and his God.

Humility

"In reality there is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself...For even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility." - Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Casa D'Ice

He's back - -------- with new signs.

The owner of Casa D'ice restaurant

In North Versailles , PA ...

(NEAR PITTSBURGH )

The owner changes the signs when he gets another idea...

Or just wants to make a [political] statement and WOW!














http://www.casadice.com/index.htm

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Amazing similarities between Lincoln and Obama

Interesting perspective!

I'm sure most of us have read the comparison of Lincoln and Kennedy,
but
did you ever consider the relationship between Obama and Lincoln.
You might be surprised.

Parallels of Abraham Lincoln and B. H. Obama:


1. Lincoln placed his hand on the Bible for his inauguration.
Obama used the same Bible.

2. Lincoln came from Illinois .
Obama comes from Illinois ..

3. Lincoln served in the Illinois Legislature.
Obama served in the Illinois Legislature.

4. Lincoln had very little experience before becoming President...
Obama had very little experience before becoming President..

5. Lincoln rode the train from Philadelphia to Washington for his
inauguration.
Obama rode the train from Philadelphia to Washington for his inauguration..

6. Lincoln was a skinny lawyer.
Obama is a skinny lawyer.

7. Lincoln was a Republican.
Obama is a skinny lawyer.

8. Lincoln was highly respected.
Obama is a skinny lawyer.

9. Lincoln was born in the United States ..
Obama is a skinny lawyer.

10. Lincoln was honest, so honest he was called Honest Abe.
Obama is a skinny lawyer

11. Lincoln saved the United States .
Obama is a skinny lawyer.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Soldier Died Today

JUST A COMMON SOLDIER
(A Soldier Died Today)
by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho' sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Problem Words or Phrases After A Few Drinks

THINGS THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:



1. Innovative



2. Preliminary



3. Proliferation



4. Cinnamon



THINGS THAT ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:



1. Specificity



2. Anti-constitutionalistically



3. Passive-aggressive disorder



4. Transubstantiate



THINGS THAT ARE DOWN RIGHT IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:



1. No thanks, I'm married.



2. Nope, no more booze for me!



3. Sorry, but you're not really my type.



4. Kebab? No thanks, I'm not hungry.



5. Good evening, officer. Isn't it lovely out tonight?



6. Oh, I couldn't! No one wants to hear me sing karaoke.



7. I'm not interested in fighting you.



8. Thank you, but I won't make any attempt to dance, I have no
coordination. I'd hate to look like a fool!



9. I must be going home now, as I have to work in the morning.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wii FOR WOMEN

video
Shii

This summer,do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?

Recently, in a large city in Australia ,a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said, "This summer,do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

A middle-aged woman,whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

To Whom It May Concern,

Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans.) They have an active sex life,get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia ,the
Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia . Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don't exist.

If they did exist,they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human?

They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them, not to mention how could they have sex?Just look at them ... where is IT?

Therefore, they don't have kids either.

Not to mention,who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me:I want to be a whale.

P.S.

We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver, and a piece of chocolate with my friends.

With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies.

So we aren't heavy,we are enormously cultured,educated and happy.

Beginning today,when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think,¨Good grief, look how smart I am!¨

Is sex work?

A U.S.M.C. Major was about to start the morning briefing to his staff. While waiting for the coffee machine to finish its brewing, the major decided to pose a question to all assembled. He explained that his wife had been a bit frisky the night before and he failed to get his usual amount of sound sleep.

He posed the question of just how much of sex was "work" and how much of it was "pleasure?"

A Captain chimed in with 75-25% in favor of work.

A Lieutenant said it was 50-50%.

A Sergeant responded with 25-75% in favor of pleasure, depending upon his state of inebriation at the time.

There being no consensus, the major turned to the corporal who was in charge of making the coffee. What was HIS opinion?

Without any hesitation, the young corporal responded, "Sir, it has to be 100% pleasure."

The Major was surprised and, as you might guess, asked why?

"Well, sir, if there was any work involved, the officers would have me doing it for them."

The room fell silent.

God bless the enlisted man.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Obama May Be Recommended For 2nd Nobel Prize

A teacher was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule and a calculator.



At a morning press conference, the Attorney General said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.



"Al-Gebra is a problem for us," the Attorney General said. "They derive solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values." They use secret code names like 'X' and 'Y' and refer to themselves as "unknowns", but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.



As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to every triangle'.



When asked to comment on the arrest, President Obama said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes." White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President. It is believed that the Nobel Prize for Physics will follow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fwd: OUR LIFE IS LIVING PROOF

No matter what our kids and the new generation think about us,

WE ARE AWESOME !!!! OUR LIFE IS LIVING PROOF !!!!

To Those of Us Born 1930 - 1979

At the end of this email is a quote of the month by Jay Leno. If you don't read
anything else, please read what he said.
Very well stated, Mr. Leno..

TO ALL THE KID! S WHO SURVIVED THE

1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's!!

First, we survived being born to mothers who
smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing,
tuna from a can, drank coffee, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were always laid down to be put to sleep on our tummies. Our baby cribs were all covered with
bright colored lead-base paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles,
locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes,
we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads.

As infants & children, we would ride in
cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes. We sait in the front seat anytime we could.

Riding in the bed of a pick- up truck on a warm
day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not
from a plastic bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from
one bottle and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes made with Lard, white
bread, real butter and bacon. We drank FLAV-OR-AIDmade with real white sugar. And, we weren't overweight. WHY?

Because we were always outside playing....that's why!

We would leave home in the morning and play all
day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on..or when mama called us to eat.

No one was able to reach us all day. And, we were OKAY.

No one kidnapped us, abused us, or harmed us in any way.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps
like wooden crates and old street skates and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes and poles a few times,
we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Play stations,
Nintendo's and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no
surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms.


WE HAD FRIENDSand we went outside and found them!
We played softball, football, kickball, basketball, tag, hide and seek, rang doorbells, skated, built tree houses, formed clubs in big boxes, rolled down hills in barrels, rode bikes, smoked cigarettes, and many more fun things. These had nothing to do with alcohol, drugs, or firearms. We barely knew what they meant and were never in the presence of anyone that did other than parents.

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth, got black eyes, caught the measles, chicken pox, and whooping cough from each o! ther. But, there were never any lawsuits from the accidents.

We got spankings on a regular basis with wooden spoons, switches, ping pong paddles, belts or just a bare hand. No one even thought about calling child services to report abuse. Our elders could all correct us - whether family or neighbors and helped us to stay on the straight and narrow.

We ate worms, mud pies made from dirt, and the
worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, got bow and arrow sets, cap guns, army men, lincol! n logs, Tinker toys, red wagons, Tonka trucks, Tiny Tear dolls, GI Joes, Easy bake ovens, Steve Austin dolls, and made up games with sticks, rubber bands, rocks and tennis balls. Even though we were told it might happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

Most everyone lived in the neighborhood and we all walked to school together, played together, and grew up together. There were no socker moms or vans to haul us around from place to place every day. We walked to our friends house. There was no extra money for those ballet lessons, piano lessons, because we were usually staying after school to play some type of ball.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team.
We were all given the same opportunity, but some did not measure up. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. They were also told 'why?'. Imagine that!!There were no lawsuits from parents or assaults resulting from these decisions.

The idea of a parent bailing us out
if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever. The last 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas in technology. We designed all those buttons for today's kids to push, all those screens for today's kids to watch, all those phones for today's kids to talk on. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility. And, we actually learned how to deal with all of it!

If YOU are one of these kids, CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who
have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for
our own good. . . .While you are at it, forward
it to your kids so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.


Kind of makes you want to
run through the house with scissors, doesn't it ?

The quote of the month is by Jay Leno:


'With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu, swine flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?'

For those that prefer to think that God is not watching over us...go ahead and delete this. For the rest of us...pass this on.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Recent Hotel Stay

STAYED IN A HOTEL RECENTLY?
By
Neal Boortz


Room Service: "Morrin. Roon sirbees."

Guest: "Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service."

Room Service: " Rye . Dis Roon sirbees...morrin! Joowish to oddor sunteen???"

Guest: "Uh.... Yes, I'd like to order bacon and eggs."

Room Service: "Ow July den?"

Guest: "......What??"

Room Service: "Ow July den?!?... pryed, boyud, poochd?"

Guest: "Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry.. scrambled, please."

Room Service: "Ow July dee baykem? Crease?"

Guest: "Crisp will be fine ."

Room Service: "Hokay. An Sahn toes?"

Guest: "What?"

Room Service: "An toes. July Sahn toes?"

Guest: "I... don't think so."

RoomService: "No? Judo wan sahn toes???"

Guest: "I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'judo wan sahn toes' means."

RoomService: "Toes! Toes!...Why Joo don Juan toes? Ow bow Anglish moppin weet bodder?"

Guest: "Oh, English muffin!!! I've got it! You were saying 'toast'...Fine ...Yes, an English muffin will be fine ."

RoomService: "Weet bodder?"

Guest: "No, just put the bodder on the side."

RoomService: "Wad?!?"

Guest: "I mean butter... just put the butter on the side."

RoomService: "Copy?"

Guest: "Excuse me?"

RoomService: "Copy...tea..meel?"

Guest: "Yes. Coffee, please... and that's everything.."

RoomService: "One Minnie. Scramah egg, crease baykem, Anglish moppin, weet bodder on sigh and copy ... rye??"

Guest: "Whatever you say."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wanton Desperation? Haste? Scary?

Obama prods Congress to pass health bill quickly

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer Erica Werner, Associated Press Writer 2 hrs 17 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is prodding House and Senate Democrats to get him a final health care bill as soon as possible, encouraging them to bypass the usual negotiations between the two chambers in the interest of speed.

Obama delivered the message at an Oval Office meeting Tuesday evening with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his No. 2, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., joined in by phone.

They agreed that rather than setting up a formal conference committee to resolve differences between health bills passed last year by the House and Senate, the House will work off the Senate's version, amend it and send it back to the Senate for final passage, according to a House leadership aide, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the private meeting.

Obama himself will take a hands-on role, convening another meeting with congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday. Pelosi and four Democratic committee leaders are expected to attend.

The aim is to get a final bill to Obama's desk before the State of the Union address sometime in early February.

Facing the need to maintain a tenuous 60-vote coalition in the Senate, House Democrats will probably have to give up on starting a new government insurance plan to compete with the private market, something that's a nonstarter with Senate moderates. In its place they hope for more generous subsidies for lower-income families to buy health insurance.

Obama agreed at Tuesday evening's meeting to help strengthen affordability measures beyond what's in the Senate bill, the aide said.

Pelosi suggested Tuesday that House members wouldn't insist on the government plan as long as the final bill provides "affordability for the middle class, accountability for the insurance companies, ... accessibility by lowering cost at every stage."

"There are other ways to do that, and we look forward to having those discussions," she said.

House Democrats want the Senate to agree to language revoking insurers' antitrust exemption as a way to hold insurance companies accountable in absence of direct government competition, said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., a member of the House leadership.

The bills passed by the House and Senate both would require nearly all Americans to get coverage and would provide subsidies for many who can't afford the cost, but they differ on hundreds of details. Among them are whom to tax, how many people to cover, how to restrict taxpayer funding for abortion and whether illegal immigrants should be allowed to buy coverage in the new markets with their own money.

Concerns about affordability are paramount. Major subsidies under the bills wouldn't start flowing to consumers until 2013 at the earliest. Even with federal aid, many families still would face substantial costs.

The House bill would provide $602 billion in subsidies from 2013-2019, covering an additional 36 million people.

The Senate bill would start the aid a year later, providing $436 billion in subsidies from 2014-2019, and reducing the number of uninsured by 31 million.

"Affordability is a critical issue," Van Hollen said.

But sweetening the deal for low- and middle-income households could require more taxes to pay for additional subsidies. And the House and Senate are also at odds over whom to tax. The House wants to raise income taxes on individuals making more than $500,000 and couples over $1 million. The Senate would slap a new tax on high-cost insurance plans. Although the Obama administration supports the Senate's insurance tax as a cost-saver, labor unions, which contribute heavily to Democratic candidates, are against it.

The House may end up accepting the insurance tax if it hits fewer people than the Senate's design now calls for. There also could be common ground in a Senate proposal to raise Medicare payroll taxes on individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples over $250,000.

Democrats reacted defensively to criticism that they are taking the final, most crucial stage of the debate behind closed doors, contending they've conducted a transparent process with hundreds of public meetings and legislation posted online. Republicans seized on a newly released letter from the head of the C-SPAN network calling on congressional leaders to open the final talks to the public, and cited Obama's campaign trail pledge to do just that.

Asked about that promise, Pelosi remarked, without elaboration, "There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail."

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said Wednesday it was not a slap at the president. "It was a quip," Daly said.

___

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.