TPM News

Word on Capitol Hill today is that a public option may end up in the final Senate health care bill after all, but Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) doesn't sound like she likes it very much.

During an interview with NPR's "Tell Me More" today, Landrieu described the public option as a "government-run, taxpayer subsidized, national insurance plan."

Opining on the polls showing support for public option, she said it was all about the phrasing of the question.

"I think if you asked, 'Do you want a public option but it would force the government to go bankrupt,' people would say 'No,'" she said.

The Hill caught the NPR bit earlier. Listen to the full piece here.

A collection of essays about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, titled Going Rouge, will be released the same day as Palin's own much-awaited book, Going Rogue.

The essays, collected by The Nation senior editors Richard Kim and Betsy Reed and written by Max Blumenthal, Katha Pollitt, Matt Taibbi and several others, will examine "the nightmarish prospect of her continuing to dominate the nation's political scene."

And yes, the book is available for pre-order.

(H/T Shannyn Moore)

Democrats and civil-rights advocates are slamming conservative members of a key federal voting-rights panel for a plan to hold hearings on the controversial "New Black Panthers" voter intimidation case, and are expressing intense concern that the commission is being shifted away from its traditional role as a protector of the rights of minority voters.

Yesterday, Main Justice reported that the commission, dominated by Bush appointees, planned to hold hearings on the New Black Panther case, which the Justice Department dismissed earlier this year. In a now-famous incident from Election Day 2008, a member of a group called the New Black Panther Party was caught on camera clad in combat boots and brandishing a night stick at a Philadelphia polling station.

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The new Democracy Corps (D) poll of the New Jersey gubernatorial race finds Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine narrowly leading Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, by a slim three-point margin.

The numbers: Corzine 42%, Christie 39%, and independent Chris Daggett with 13%. This is essentially unchanged from the last D-Corps survey, which had Corzine up by 41%-38%-14%.

The analysis finds that neither major party candidate enjoys any real popularity with the voters: "Amidst a campaign that has turned almost exclusively negative, both Corzine and Christie remain relatively unpopular with New Jersey voters. Christie is viewed unfavorably by 42 percent of voters and favorably by 35 percent for a net favorability rating of -7 points. Corzine's net favorability rating is nearly identical at -8 points, with 46 percent rating him unfavorably versus 38 percent rating him favorably."

Daggett's favorable-unfavorable rating is 15%-25%.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has modified his "Names of the Dead" Web site, which is meant to catalog a list of people who have died for lack of health insurance, removing a link to his campaign Web site.

Republicans had been objecting that Grayson used the House floor to promote a site that contained link to his campaign site -- and thus an avenue to donate to him -- and also that he was using his personal money to run a site that in turn linked to his campaign.

Grayson's office gave us this statement from the Congressman:

"There are no violations. Once again, the Republicans are trying to change the subject from what matters to what doesn't matter. Why can't they talk about the issues? In the hours since they started complaining about this, more than 100 people have died because they do not have health insurance. Let's talk about saving lives, not about baseless complaints about violations that did not occur."

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President Obama this afternoon commented on the decision by his "pay czar," Ken Feinberg, to drastically cut executive pay at bailed out companies.

"I've always believed that our system of free enterprise works best when it rewards hard work. This is America. We don't disparage wealth. We don't begrudge anybody for doing well. We believe in success," Obama said.

"But it does offend our values when executives of big financial firms, firms that are struggling, pay themselves huge bonuses even as they continue to rely on taxpayer assistance to stay afloat," he added.

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Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the three-way NY-23 special election, has a new radio ad making fun of moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava's campaign for calling the police against Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack, who offended the campaign by following the candidate and asking her questions about her policy positions.

The ad is a comedic dramatization of a Scozzafava staffer calling 911. Here's a short excerpt:

[Audio recording static and telephone ringing sfx, male voice] 911, please state your emergency.

[Female voice, agitated] Yes, I work for Dede Scozzafava. A reporter just asked about her voting to increase taxes!

[911] I see the problem. Which of Scozzafava's 190 votes to raise taxes did the reporter ask about?

[CALLER] I don't know, I mean, she's been in Albany 10 years...

Listen to the whole thing. It's really funny.

If this is accurate, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) gets a medal for prescience and Sen. Olympia Snowe's decision may be made for her. Two high profile conservative Democrats are saying they hear that Senate and White House health care negotiators are leaning toward including the public option in the base bill that they bring to the Senate floor.

"I keep hearing there is a lot of leaning toward some sort of national public option, unfortunately, from my standpoint," said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). "I still believe a state-based approach is the way in which to go. So I'm not being shy about making that point."

"What I'm hearing is this is the direction of the conversation," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND).

Reid's office is not commenting on the speculation. But if Nelson and Conrad's understanding is correct it would be bombshell news. Reid and the White House have been under intense pressure from the Democratic base to include a public option in the bill that comes to the Senate floor. If they accede, it would all but assure that if a health care bill os enacted by Congress, it will include a national public option. We'll pay close attention

As the health care merger discussions inch lawmakers closer to a final deal, key Democrats are getting face time with President Obama.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a private lunch with Obama today, and Democratic leaders will meet with him this evening.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he wasn't sure whether Republicans were invited, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) will be here around 5 p.m.

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Word travels fast!

As it happens, the Maine AFL-CIO is holding its convention today. In response to my earlier report that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) does not support a favored opt out compromise, and will likely filibuster a health care bill if it includes a public option, the coalition put their convention into recess so everyone in attendance can call her office to tell her they support a public option.

"Senator Snowe's constituents in Maine want and deserve a robust public option," said AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale. "Workers from across the state were gathered for their state AFL-CIO convention and will all be calling her directly in support of one."

Snowe's no stranger to pressure on this issue, both from within her state and without. And that pressure just got ramped up a little bit further.