In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Yesterday, I noted that reports had emerged out of Maine that, at a health care rally this past weekend, Sen. Olympia Snowe had changed course and come out in support of a trigger-free public option--a public option "available from day one," as reformers like to say.

That turns out not to be the case. Here's the quote that was first reported:

I believe that the reforms we are creating will result in more competitive, affordable and innovative options for Mainers, yet we can all agree that we must not leave universal access to chance. That is why I also support a public plan which must be available from day one.

And here's the full quote, provided by Sen. Snowe's staff:
I believe that the reforms we are creating will result in more competitive, affordable and innovative options for Mainers, yet we can all agree that we must not leave universal access to chance. That is why I support a public plan which is available from day one--in any state where private plans fail to ensure guaranteed affordable coverage."

You can read her full statement here. This will frustrate reformers--who coined the language Snowe's using here. It represents no change from Snowe's previous position--that the public option should only be made available, on the state level, if private insurance companies don't expand access and lower prices enough to get everybody covered.

"Throughout the entire health care debate, Senator Snowe has emphasized that we must first, reform health insurance, and if plans then fail to offer affordable coverage, a public plan should then be offered from day one," says Snowe Press Secretary Julia Wanzco. "Senator Snowe's position remains the same on this issue."

Appearing last night on Larry King Live, Liz Cheney gave a defense of the Birthers:

"You know, one of the reasons I think you see people so concerned about this," Cheney explained, "I think that, you know, this issue is people are uncomfortable with having, for the first time ever, I think, a president who seems so reluctant to defend the nation overseas."

Larry King later bluntly asked, "Are you saying because he's a Kenyan?" To which she responded: "No, I'm not saying that."

In an e-mail to Ben Smith, Cheney clarified her position:

I don't have any question about Barack Obama's right to be President of the United States.

My concern is with his policies. I am deeply troubled about the path he is taking this country down -- massively expanding the size of government, weakening our national defenses, increasing taxes on all Americans and nationalizing health care. These are dangerous policies for the nation.

Note the artful phrasing that she uses. She says that she does not question Obama's "right to be President of the United States," which would logically imply that she accepts his citizenship. But she doesn't use the actual word "citizen," or otherwise include a more direct denunciation of Birther conspiracy theories.

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In an interview with the Washington Times, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) managed to cover a whole lot of territory when he criticized Sec. of State Hillary Clinton on her recent trip to India, and how she said America hadn't done a good job on controlling carbon emissions while she was asking for international cooperation. Check this out:

There are some people out there that still believe in this hoax that man-made gases, anthropogenic gases, CO2, causes global warming. If they're out there, let's keep in mind you would have an increase in the net CO2 into the atmosphere if we were to pass this, because most of our, many of our manufacturing jobs go to places like India and like China, and to have the Secretary -- where they don't have any emissions standards. And in an environment like that, to have our Secretary of State go over to India and apologize for what we, bad old America, has done. I'm so tired of people apologizing for us.

I count four conservative standards in this one quote: 1) Man-made global warming is a hoax; 2) Cutting our carbon emissions won't fix the problem of man-made global warming; 3) Hillary-bashing; and 4) Democrats apologize for America.

This is kind of like those puzzles where you have to count the total number of triangles in a collection of lines, including all the triangles that are formed out of individual smaller triangles. Can you spot any more?

Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee are running a version of the following ad in Montana, targeting Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), for standing in the way of a public health insurance option.

The above web ad lists health care industry contributions to Baucus and other conservative Democrats, while the ad--now live in Montana--focuses on Baucus exclusively. And, as Greg Sargent notes, it's generating local media attention all on its own.

In a three-hour meeting with President Obama and White House officials, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee--including chairman Henry Waxman and seven Blue Dogs--reached one key agreement: to give an independent Congressional agency the power to make cuts to, and modernize, Medicare and Medicaid.

Politically, that still leaves plenty of ground to cover before all of the Blue Dogs' concerns are addressed, if not entirely met. But on the merits it's one of a handful of proposals on the table that will bend the health care spending curve downward. Last week, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf fueled Blue Dog skepticism over health care reform efforts by saying the legislation he's seen wouldn't do enough to contain rising long-term health-care costs.

Leadership, meanwhile, insists that these negotiations are minor hiccups--part of the normal legislative process, and that their reform efforts are still on schedule.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in a dead heat with Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey, whose challenge against Specter in the Republican primary triggered Specter's party switch a few months ago.

The numbers: Specter 45%, Toomey 44%, with a ±2.9% margin of error. Back in May, shortly after he'd become a Democrat, Specter had a much better lead of 46%-37%. When Toomey is pitted against Specter's Dem primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak, Toomey has a lead of 39%-35%, with high undecideds because both candidates lack heavy name recognition.

In the Democratic primary, Specter currently leads Sestak by 55%-23%.

Only 40% of voters say Specter deserves another term, to 49% who say he does not. From the pollster's analysis: "Voters see Sen. Specter much less favorably than they once did and are net negative about giving him a sixth term in the U.S. Senate. Independent voters have shifted narrowly to Toomey 46 - 42 percent and say 53 - 35 percent that Specter does not deserve reelection."

DeMint Stands By "Waterloo" Comment Against Obama: "We've Got To Stop His Politics" Appearing this morning on the Today show, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) refused to take back his statement that Republicans can make health care policy into President Obama's "Waterloo," and that it will "break" him. When asked whether he stood by it, DeMint responded: "It's not personal. We've got to stop his politics."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner at 11 a.m. ET. At 2 p.m. ET, he will have an expanded meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and a one-on-one meeting with Maliki at 2:45 p.m. ET. AT 3 p.m. ET, the two will hold a joint press availability. At 8 p.m. ET, Obama will hold a news conference.

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Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, seven of whom are fiscally conservative Blue Dogs, emerged from the White House this afternoon saying their hour-long meeting with President Obama was constructive and that they had a "breakthrough" on Medicare payment recommendations.

The White House's proposal to strengthen the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations on how Medicare pays health care providers, won support from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), according to Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), but they haven't finalized an agreement.

"We came out of the meeting with an understanding that we're moving in that direction, based on the fact that the CBO tells us that it's the biggest single item we can address as it relates to cost containment," Ross told Dow Jones.

Ross also said they agree with Obama's four main goals for health care reform, according to Politico.

"He said it must be deficit neutral. He said it must contain cost and reduce health care inflation. He said we've got to cover as many people as we possibly can, making health insurance affordable for them. And that we need insurance reform, that we've got to cover pre-existing conditions. We share all of those principles, all those concerns," Ross said.

He added that final decisions on cost-cutting measures won't be made until the Congressional Budget Office scores the various provisions under consideration, according to Congressional Quarterly.

Waxman pointed out that the entire committee, and not just the Blue Dogs, are committed to bringing down health care costs, reports The Hill.

Chris Matthews had a truly fascinating interview on Hardball today with Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), one of the co-sponsors of the "Birther Bill" to require that presidential candidates submit proof of citizenship.

After some drawn-out questioning, Matthews got Campbell to say that, yes, he does believe President Obama is a natural-born citizen:

"Okay," said Matthews, "glad we're making progress here."

The latest FEC filings show that Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), the author and main sponsor of the infamous "Birther Bill" in the House to require Presidential candidates to submit proof of citizenship, is receiving financial support from some prominent people -- namely, the House GOP leadership, in their regular donations to GOP incumbents.

Minority Leader John Boehner's PAC, the Freedom Project, donated $5,000 to Posey's campaign in June. Minority Whip Eric Cantor's ERICPAC gave $7,500.

On the one hand, there's nothing unusual about the leadership giving money to an incumbent. On the other hand, not every incumbent has refused to say for sure that President Obama is a U.S. citizen