In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The groups MoveOn, Democracy for America, and Change Congress are out with a new ad in Louisiana targeting Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) for her opposition to a public option.



MoveOn hasn't shied away from criticizing Democrats who are trying to kill the public option. In the last couple weeks, the group has loudly criticized Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kay Hagan (D-CA) for their positions on the public option, and their lukewarm attitude to health care reform more generally.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has launched this new TV ad going after freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) for his vote on the climate bill -- and attacking President's Obama's statement during the 2008 campaign that electricity rates would "skyrocket" under a cap-and-trade system.

This is the first attack ad from the Republican Party during this cycle that uses President Obama in a negative manner:



"That's right -- 'skyrocket,'" the announcer says. "It'll destroy jobs and cost middle-class families $1,800 a year, every time you turn on a switch. On Tom Perriello's voting with Obama and with Nancy Pelosi over and over."

The following other Democratic members of Congress are on the target list for radio ads, phone calls and Web ads: Rick Boucher (VA); Vic Snyder (AR); Ike Skelton (MO); Baron Hill (IN); Harry Teague (NM); Bruce Braey (IA); Bart Gordon (TN); Betsy Markey (CO); John Boccieri (OH); Zack Space (OH); Alan Grayson (FL); Debbie Halvorson (IL); and Mary Jo Kilroy (OH).

Late Update: DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer gives us this response: "Instead of offering solutions, the Republican Party of No is trying to block progress on creating clean energy jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and getting America running on clean energy. It's no wonder the American people don't trust Republicans when all they offer are false attacks on President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Democrats."

The surfeit of polling data showing broad public support for the public option hasn't swayed Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who's joining conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans in staunch opposition. Check out this video from Paul Bass at the New Haven Independent.



His two key objections are:

  1. "If we create a public option, the public is going to end up paying for it."


  2. "My fear is...[health care providers] would end up getting levels of reimbursement from the public plan...comparable to what they get today from Medicaid."


He should probably take a look at the work the relevant Senate committees are doing, though. The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee is contemplating a public option that finances itself (i.e. no public subsidy), and the likeliest outcome of the legislative process will be a public option that either exists on a level playing field with private insurers (and pays comparable rates for care), or a public option that pays Medicare like rates, or something in between.

SCOTUS Moving Rightward Under Roberts The Washington Post reports that this past Supreme Court session shows the Roberts Court to have moved definitely to the right, through a cautious and incremental -- but definitely conservative -- approach. "One thing I think is going on is that the Chief Justice has a devotion to the institution of the Supreme Court, and not wanting to get it out on a limb in front of public opinion," said Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute. "But Roberts is, after all, a conservative." The New York Times says the same thing, pointing to the key role played by Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will hold an online town hall discussion on health care at 1:15 p.m. ET, hosted at Northern Virginia Community College. At 4:45 p.m. ET, he will sign a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

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A new Quinnipiac poll finds that a large majority of Americans would like to see government increase its involvement in health care. Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said they support a public option.

Interestingly--though perhaps predictably--most of this support seems to be in the abstract. A majority of those asked (53%) most suggested they'd rather be covered by private insurance than by a government-run option--reflective, perhaps, of the reality that most Americans are already insured and most of them are pleased with the quality of their health care. But they nonetheless want other citizens to have the option. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they want government-run health insurance.

Here's video of Sen.-elect Al Franken's (D-MN) victory speech and press conference:

It's been a strange eight months following the Minnesota elections. Here are 10 of our very favorite moments (post election), care of TPMDC reporter (and Franken-Coleman authority) Eric Kleefeld:

Nov. 5: Franken Says Race "Too Close to Call" The day after the election, Franken releases a statement vowing that the race is not over. He doesn't know the half of it...

Jan. 6: Coleman Files Lawsuit Contesting Results Coleman's lawsuit is filed right after the recount is completed, and is filled with contradictions and flimsy legal arguments. Basically, Coleman and his lawyers say the entire election was tainted, and he deserves to win. In Eric's words, his strategy is "overall throw[ing] everything against the wall to see what sticks."

Jan. 29, Feb. 4: Coleman Tries To Get Ballots Counted Despite Forgery In so many cases we lose count, Coleman's lawyers try to get ballots OK'd despite the fact that the signatures on the ballot applications were forged. One such argument led to this memorable exchange with lead Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg:

Friedberg: In point of fact, even though I did something I wasn't supposed to do with the application, my ballot should still count because my signature is genuine.

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann: Not according to the procedures we use to determine whether the signature is genuine.

Friedberg: I don't care about your procedures.

(Franken lawyer calls an objection, is sustained.)

Friedberg: OK, I do care...


Feb. 27: Franken Team Catches Coleman Hiding a Witness The courtroom devolves into chaos when Franken's lawyers catch Coleman's team havinghidden a witness, a Republican poll worker from Minneapolis, during the discovery phase of the trial. This came after they'd been caught having withheld notes that were made by this same poll worker. Franken then moved to have Coleman's claims of double-counted ballots dropped. The witness's testimony was ultimately kept in the record, but the damage to Team Coleman's credibility was clear.

March 30: Cornyn Says Election Could Take "Years" To Resolve NRSC John Cornyn promises resistance to any attempt to seat Franken, saying that the litigation could take "years" to sort out. Nice try, John.

April 13: Franken Declares Victory, Quotes Paul Wellstone After the election contest court rules in Franken's favor, he holds a press conference outside his home, quoting Paul Wellstone, the Minnesota senator and close friend of Franken's who died in 2002. "It's like what Paul Wellstone always said: Politics isn't about winning, it's about improving people's lives." Wellstone's death clearly had a big personal effect on Franken, spurring him to get seriously involved in politics, which ultimately led to this entire hullabaloo.

April, May: Polls Show Minnesotans Want Coleman to Concede Three polls show that a majority of Minnesota voters -- from 54%, 63% and 70% -- want Coleman to step back and let Franken take the Senate seat.

May 4: Franken: "Why Am I Grumpy? Oh, I Know Why" An annoyed Franken describes his strange transition process (one in which he can't pay any of his staffers) and admits that, yes, sometimes we all get a little cranky.

June 30: Coleman Concedes. It's Over. After the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously rules that Franken legitimately won the election, Coleman holds a (rather classy) press conference in which he finally concedes the race. Minnesota (and TPM HQ) breathes a sigh of relief.

June 30: Franken Accepts Victory A jubilant Franken holds a press conference to accept victory and thank Coleman, saying "I'm so excited to finally be able to get to work for the people of Minnesota."

Finally indeed, Senator-elect Franken.

Sen.-elect Al Franken (D-MN) held a press conference outside his Minneapolis home, celebrating his win in the long drama that has been the Minnesota Senate race.

"Franni [his wife] and I are so thrilled that we can finally celebrate this victory, and I'm so excited to finally be able to get to work for the people of Minnesota," he said. "I received a very gracious call from Sen. Coleman a little while ago. He wished me well, I wished him well, and we agreed that it is time to finally bring this state together."

It should be noted that during all the litigation and back-and-forth attacks, the Franken campaign and legal team would refer to Norm Coleman as "former Sen. Coleman." But now that the race is over and it's a time for civility and unity, the inherent insult of the "former" has now been put aside.

Franken said that the country faces many challenges in the economy and world affairs. "So even though Franni and I are thrilled and honored by the faith that Minnesotans have placed in me, I'm also humbled," he said, "not just by the closeness of this election, but also by the enormity of the responsibilities that come with this office."

He also said that much has been talked about, that he'll be the 60th Democratic Senator. "The way I see it, I'm not going to Washington to be the 60th democratic senator. I'm going to Washington to be the second Senator from Minnesota, and that's how I'm going to do this job," he said, to the applause of his supporters.

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Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele has released this statement on the final conclusion of the Minnesota Senate race, in which Democratic activist and comedian Al Franken defeated Republican Sen. Norm Coleman after a long process of recounting and litigation:

"I am deeply disappointed in the decision made by the state Supreme Court, and I share the frustration of Minnesota's voters. At the core of our democracy lies two concrete principles: No valid vote should go uncounted and all votes should be treated equally. Sadly, those principles were not adhered to during this election. While I would have proudly stood behind Norm Coleman had he chosen to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, I know that his decision to withdraw from this race was not an easy one, but one that he felt was the best decision for the people of Minnesota. For the last six years, Norm represented the people of Minnesota with distinction, earning a much deserved reputation as one of the hardest-working members of Congress. I, on behalf of all Republicans, thank him for his service and will miss his leadership in Washington."

TPMDC's update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:

  • Health Care: A staffer leaked some preliminary details of the public option Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee plan to include in their reform legislation. Those details imply a significant retreat from the bold plan the committee intended to offer at the outset of the process, but still leave room for a robust public insurance option. Still unknown: whether those details will be acceptable to Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) who's been unwilling up until now to accept a public option, and whose vote may be required to move the bill out of committee.


  • Senate politics: This doesn't really belong under the "legislative initiatives" rubric, but it will impact all of them, and much, much more. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Sen.-elect Al Franken, and Norm Coleman conceded defeat. Franken will likely be seated next week, becoming the Democrats' 60th caucus member--which, as we've detailed before, will change Senate politics and legislative math in a number of ways.

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