TPM News


President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host an event promoting Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 16, 2009. Here, Obama fences playfully with Tim Morehouse, who won a silver medal in 2008 in Beijing.

Newscom/UPI/Aude Guerrucci




Obama plays with a toy light saber, going right for the gut.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




Then, Obama turns his formidable foam fencing skills on his wife.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




Obama en garde with a toy light saber.

Newscom/Chicago Tribune/Michael Tercha




The Obamas admire Morehouse's silver medal.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




Obama with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Newscom/Chicago Tribune/Michael Tercha




The First Lady will travel to Copenhagen next month to make a final pitch for Chicago's bid at hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg






Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




Olympian Ryan Reser gets thrown by a young girl in a judo exhibition.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg




Reser and Paralympian Myles Porter give a judo demonstration. Before the White House event, the athletes visited D.C. schools to talk about sports, exercise and health.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg






Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg






Olympic medalist Dominique Dawes hugs Michelle Obama. Other athletes who attended: Jackie Joyner Kersee, Arlene Limas, Henry Cejudo, Ryan Reiser, Michael Conley, Bob Pickens, Bob Ctvrtlik, Anita Defranz, Jair Lynch, Linda Mastendrea, Hope Lewellen, April Holmes and Jerrod Fields.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

On the left, the Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill has been ripped apart by (deep breath): Health Care for America Now, AFL-CIO, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Sen. Roland Burris, Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Anthony Weiner, and, I'm sure, others.

It earned an icy reception from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a lukewarm (though overall positive) response from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, it's still getting no love on the right. Even from moderate Republicans. Blue Dogs like it, though!

Late update: Despite calling the Baucus plan the "best effort to date," even the Chamber of Commerce has "grave concerns" and says "the bill still needs tremendous improvement." You can read the full statement below the fold.

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Following on Sen. Kent Conrad's request, the Congressional Budget Office has analyzed the Finance Committee's draft bill--not just for a 10 year window, but for a 20 year window--and concluded that it would be a big money saver. From 2010 through 2019, the legislation, if enacted as is, would reduce the federal deficit by $49 billion. And, in a rough projection, CBO found that the bill would continue to provide savings relative to current law, for the 10 years thereafter. Though there's a tremendous amount of uncertainty, from 2020 through 2029 the legislation would save on the order of .5 percent of GDP

As I noted yesterday, Conrad requested an extended outlook, likely with the intent of giving this bill a political boost. Conrad and the "Gang of Six" worked closely with CBO chief Doug Elmendorf while crafting the bill, and almost certainly knew that it would score favorably, particularly in comparison to the Senate HELP bill and House legislation, which do less to control the rate of health care inflation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) suggested yesterday that a climate bill might have to wait until next year, thwarting the administration's goal of having legislation before an international climate conference this December. But it's not a setback, says White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

"We have no doubt that that will take some time," Gibbs said at today's press briefing. "I think we can continue to make progress."

The administration was hoping to have legislation before the Copenhagen conference at the end of the year. But comments from Reid and others suggest that might not happen.

"So, you know, we are going to have a busy, busy time the rest of this year," Reid said. "And, of course, nothing terminates at the end of this year. We still have next year to complete things if we have to."

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In response to the release of Sen. Max Baucus' health care reform bill, Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) became the first Senator today to say he will vote against any health care bill that does not include a public option.

"I firmly believe in a public option and will oppose any bill that does not include one," Burris said. "Illinoisans have seen their insurance premiums skyrocket, while more and more families lose their coverage every day."

You can read the entire statement below the fold. Obviously, there's a huge difference between opposing health care reform without a public option, and voting no on cloture (i.e. supporting a filibuster) on a bill without a public option. In fact, with the Senate numbers being what they are, the difference is crucial, and if Burris is suggesting the latter, it could have a tremendous impact on health care negotiations going forward. I've put in calls to his staff for clarity on that point, and will report back when I learn more.

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Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), a potential presidential candidate in 2012, has taken the bold step of ordering his state government to suspend and review all funding of ACORN -- a move sure to please the GOP base.

But here's the catch, according to the Star Tribune: ACORN says that they don't have any funding from the state of Minnesota. A spokesman for the group told the paper that ACORN has never received money from the state government, "and there's certainly not a dime to cut off right now."

Pawlenty's order to the state Management and Budget Commissioner ordered a halt to all ACORN funding "unless the state is legally obligated," and to conduct a "thorough" investigation into the state's relationship with ACORN.

As you probably know by now, last week two conservative activists set off a frenzy in the right-wing media by posting videos in which they posed as a pimp and a prostitute -- complete with outlandish costumes -- and asked employees of ACORN for advice on how to conceal the woman's source of income on their tax forms. ACORN employees in Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Brooklyn, fell for the sting, offering advice to the young couple on how to deceive the government.

ACORN fired the employees involved, but that hasn't stopped coverage of the scandal from mushrooming beyond Fox's Glenn Beck and quickly going mainstream.

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President Obama met privately with Senate health care reform advocates today, including Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). This comes a day after Rockefeller said he can't support the bill Sen. Max Baucus unveiled today in its current form. No details just yet, but I'll get them to you as soon as they're available.

Late update: In a statement, Rockefeller says "The President and I met today to talk privately about health care reform. I do not want to go into the specifics of the meeting but I will say that nothing is clearer than the President's commitment to providing affordable and effective health care for all Americans and he and I are united in our efforts to deliver on this promise.

The President is aware that I have concerns with the current Senate Finance bill offered by my friend Chairman Baucus. He is also aware that I have made clear I cannot vote for this bill in its current form. I am working to improve the Finance bill in Committee and it is my great hope that substantial progress can be made.

In an interview with TPM just now, Birther evangelist Orly Taitz fired back at Clay Land, the U.S. district court judge who tore apart Birtherism and threatened Taitz with sanctions in an order today, saying that "somebody should consider trying [the judge] for treason and aiding and abetting this massive fraud known as Barack Hussein Obama."

"This is so outrageous what this judge did -- it goes in the face of law and order," said Taitz, reached at her office in Mission Viego, CA. "Not every judge is as corrupt as Judge Land. Some judges believe in the Constitution. And some judges believe in the rule of law."

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As ABC's Terry Moran accidentally reported, President Obama called rapper Kanye West a "jackass" before an interview with CNBC on Monday. The comment was supposed to be off the record.

Now, we have the video:



Politico originally posted the video earlier today, then quickly took it down. Ben Smith wrote, "Wiser heads than mine at POLITICO made the call to take down the video of the "jackass" moment. Sorry about the tease if you missed it."

But CNN managed to grab the video before it went down.

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