In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Obama: In Ten Years, Health Care Will Cost Twice As Much If We Do Nothing In his town-hall special on health care last night, President Obama sought to communicate a message of urgency for reform. "So if you're happy with your health care right now -- and many people are happy with their health care right now," said Obama, "the problem is, 10 years from now, you're not going to be happy, because it's going to cost twice as much or three times as much as it does right now."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will participate in a "United We Serve" event today, joining hundreds of Congressional family members and five national nonprofit organizations at Fort McNair to prepare 15,000 backpacks with books, healthy snacks, Frisbees and other items for the children of servicemen and women. At 2 p.m. ET, Obama and Vice President Biden will meet with members of Congress from both parties to discuss immigration. At 3:15 p.m. ET, Obama will meet with Sec. of the Treasury Tim Geithner, and at 4 p.m. ET with Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. At 6:30 p.m., Obama, the First Lady and Biden will host a luau on the South Lawn, for members of Congress and their families.

Read More →

After yesterday's press conference, reporters are understandably trying to get a clearer sense from the administration on whether the president's obvious personal preference for a public option will ultimately translate into an ultimatum to Congress demanding one.

Here's Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius fielding one such question.

"One of his bottom lines is, he refuses to talk about any plan that really doesn't lower costs. And if you have a monopoly in the marketplace, it's very difficult to lower costs."

That may be the closest we'll get to an answer at this point--but the idea here is that Obama a). wouldn't support a plan that doesn't lower costs, and b). finds it hard to believe that a reform proposal without a public plan would succeed at lowering costs. Ergo.... we wait for the CBO, I guess. But Obama's been pretty clear that he's going to keep his powder dry publicly until the process in Congress reaches greater maturity.

I just spoke with Gary Ward, The State's managing editor for online, and he told me that the Mark Sanford story has been great for his paper's online traffic.

"It's been incredible," said Ward, with the paper getting links from all manner of national news outlets.

"Page views are about three-times normal, and monthly uniques for today are just, like eight times normal," said Ward. "If you look at a graph of our traffic, it started on Monday when we started reporting through the day."

"I would say that traffic today, starting from Monday through today, has been tremendous," he added. "Monday is usually the busiest day of the week, but today is just huge, and blowing last week, and last year at this time, out of the water."

In this post, and a couple others, I've made the point that there's no evidence that potential Republican support for the idea of a co-operative health care system will translate into Republican support for the broader reform bill they're attached to.

Here, for instance is how the Associated Press characterized Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi's take on the co-ops. "Enzi likes an idea proposed by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., to set up nonprofit cooperatives that would enable groups to put together their own health care plans."

Enzi is the ranking member of the Senate HELP committee, and he's been a harsh critic of the health care bill that's come out of that panel. I talked to his spokesman this evening, who said the AP didn't get things exactly right. More accurately, Enzi supports the Finance Committee's process, which he said has been more transparent and bipartisan in spirit. He says the co-op proposal sounds promising, but he needs to learn more about it before he offers his full support to the provision.

But, crucially, even if Enzi does decide that co-ops are a great policy idea, he in no uncertain terms, withholds judgment on the greater bill. This is a common position in the GOP, and, frankly, a common legislative tactic in general. It's not necessarily a wink and a nod toward a 'no' vote, but it raises concerns among Democrats--or at least it should--that Republicans might try to weaken the bill only to turn around and vote against it.

There have been a number of important one-off reports over the last few days on developments in the Senate Finance Committee's health care legislation negotiations--co-ops vs. the public option--which, taken together, don't really paint a complete picture of where things stand in that process. So let me do my best to tie it all together and place things in greater context.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is the committee's point man on the public plan. That's the role he was assigned by chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) when the process began, and it started with his suggestion that a government insurance option operate on a level playing field with private insurers; lower administrative costs, lower overall levels of waste, but barred from monopsonistically using the sheer enormity of the program to set lower prices.

Some conservative Democrats on the committee had "concerns" about Schumer's plan, and Republicans were generally opposed, which put a crimp in Baucus' plan to reach a bipartisan consensus--for all intents and purposes, to win the votes of ranking member Chuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe. That's what ultimately created the political space for Sen. Kent Conrad's plan to build a cooperative system, which Grassley said he was open to in principle.

There were just a couple significant problems with that.

Read More →

A new Strategic Vision (R) poll shows Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) badly trailing his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.

The numbers: Christie 51%, Corzine 39%, with a ±3% margin of error. Two months ago, before Christie won his Republican primary, Christie was ahead of Corzine 47%-36%.

New Jersey is a very blue state in general, but Corzine is an unpopular incumbent. In this poll, only 34% of likely voters approve of his performance, to 54% who disapprove. The big question here is whether Corzine can turn things around in the next four and a half months -- and whether he can successfully employ a strategy that has been used by Democrats in past elections here, by dragging his Republican opponent down in a wave of attacks that tie him to the national GOP.

TPM reader JP reminds us that Mark Sanford, who was a Congressman back in 1998, voted for three of the four articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton.

You can check out the roll call votes, here, here, here and here.

Think Progress has rounded up some of Sanford's comments at the time, both about Clinton and the sex scandal that derailed the leadership ambitions of Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA).

The Republican Governors Association released this statement from its new chairman, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi -- another possible 2012 presidential candidate -- in the wake of Mark Sanford's admission of an extramarital affair and his resignation as RGA chairman:

"The news revealed today hurts all of us who have gotten to know Governor Sanford over the years and so it is with regret that the RGA accepted Governor Sanford's resignation as chairman.

"While this news is deeply disappointing, I also know it's important to remain focused on the future and Governor Sanford's resignation allows him and us to do just that.

"The RGA has an important task over the next two years. I am committed to seeing it through and confident we will succeed."

The Democratic Governors Association has released this statement on Gov. Mark Sanford's (R-SC) resignation as chairman of the Republican Governors Association:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Governor Sanford and his family, and I wish them the best as they try to heal this wound," said Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association.

Here's an item that no doubt rankles supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act. Steve Patterson--who once served as Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln's Chief of Staff, and is now managing her 2010 re-election campaign--appeared before the group Benton County Democratic Women on Monday to praise his boss for 'voicing concerns' about the bill.

According to the Benton County Daily Record, "[l]ast month, the club welcomed AFL-CIO representative Amy Niehouse, who spoke about the EFCA and described the benefits to workers and communities when workers choose to organize a union."

Apparently an aide to Blanche Lincoln is the obvious counterpoint to this.