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That a majority of the neediest people who could be helped by the law may instead remain uninsured is a predicament unforeseen by Obama and congressional Democrats who designed a sweeping extension of the social safety net. The law's historic promise of health insurance for nearly all U.S. residents would not be fulfilled as envisioned.

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Student loan rates double without Congress' action

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ College students taking out new loans for the fall term will see interest rates twice what they were in the spring â¿¿ unless Congress fulfills its pledge to restore lower rates when it returns after the July 4 holiday.

Subsidized Stafford loans, which account for roughly a quarter of all direct federal borrowing, went from 3.4 percent interest to 6.8 percent interest on Monday. Congress' Joint Economic Committee estimated the cost passed to students would be about $2,600.

Efforts to keep interest rates from doubling on new Stafford loans fell apart last week amid partisan wrangling in the Senate. Democratic senators and the White House predicted that a deal would be reached in Congress to bring the rates down again before students return to campus.

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White House has coal country on the defensive

COLSTRIP, Mont. (AP) â¿¿ After several years of taking a beating from the poor economy, new pollution rules and a flood of cheap natural gas, the coal industry was on the rebound this year as mining projects moved forward in the Western U.S. and demand for the fuel began to rise, especially in Asia.

But almost overnight, coal is back on the defensive, scrambling to stave off a dark future amid President Barack Obama's renewed push to rein in climate change.

The proposal, with its emphasis on cuts in carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants, would put facilities like the 2,100-megawatt Colstrip electricity plant in eastern Montana in regulators' cross hairs. That has profound spin-off implications for the massive strip mines that dot the surrounding arid landscape of the Powder River Basin and provide the bulk of the nation's coal.

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