TPM News

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) just appeared on CNN, and was asked by Tony Harris whether a health care bill can get out of the Finance Committee next week. Conrad said yes -- a sign that he could be getting behind Democratic efforts to pass the bill, without slowing it down.

"I think we could," said Conrad. "Look, there are, (laughs), I think it's pretty clear there are some of our colleagues who are engaged in a bit of a stall, a bit of a slowdown. That's understandable -- even though we've been at this in our committee for well more than a year, and we have had hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of hours of discussion, dozens of meetings, dozens of hearings."

Conrad -- who has himself been one of those people stalling the bill until now -- also specifically refuted the idea that there has been a rush to pass it.

"As I say, our little group of six -- three Democrats, three Republicans -- we've had 61 meetings," he said. "So the notion that somehow there's a rush here, I think is just for those who have kind of tuned in here at the last minute. We've been working on this for well over a year. I think we could complete our part of it by some time next week."

Appearing on Charlie Rose last night, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel sounded less than optimistic that the Senate's health care reform bill would include a public option.

"I think the Senate's been clear what the prospects [are]," Emanuel said. "That doesn't mean in the House, they're not gonna come to the table and demand it."

He also wouldn't say for sure whether there will be a public option in the final legislation.

"It has to be what the conference has to negotiate," he said.

He did, however, say there will be a bill before Congress takes its Thanksgiving recess, and that it won't look quite like the Senate Finance Committee bill.

"The legislative process is a place where both bodies get to contribute," he said.

Video after the jump.

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The accused terror plotter indicted this morning by the Feds seems to have spent a lot of time in recent months shopping for beauty and home improvement products.

According to a document filed by prosecutors, the FBI found on the computer of Najibullah Zaz instructions for making explosives, including Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP). That's the explosive that was used by the London train bombers of 2005, and by Richard Reid, the "shoe-bomber," in 2001. It's made from hydrogen peroxide, acetone, and strong acid such as hydrochloric acid.

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Forget the death panel stuff -- Karl Rove may have hit on a scare tactic that could really get people angry about a government takeover of health care.

In one paragraph in his latest Wall Street Journal column, Rove wonders which industries might be next to face President Obama's criticism of health insurance profits. Here's the key quote, with emphasis added:

Mr. Obama's dig at profits reveals a certain disdain for markets. Health insurers have a 3.3% profit margin, less than the 4.6% average for all businesses in the country. Drug companies do enjoy, on average, a 17% profit margin. But that's still less than software companies, which earn on average a 22% profit margin. Brewers make 18%. Are these industries the next targets for a revenue hungry Obama administration?

Sure, Obama can pull the plug on grandma -- but if our freedom is threatened on beer, he can count on losing a whole lot of swing states!

In an interview with WNED today, New York Gov. David Paterson said focusing on "political shenanigans" is taking away from the efforts to close a more than $3 billion deficit.

Those "shenanigans" refer to reports that President Obama is nudging Paterson to drop out of next year's race for governor.

In bringing focus to Albany's budget problems, Paterson said he wants to "show the voters" that despite that gaping deficit, New York isn't in as bad shape as California, Michigan, Massachusetts or other states -- thanks to him.

"New York, which was hit hardest by the budget deficit because 20 percent of our taxes come from Wall Street, has actually weathered the storm the best of all the states. But the decisions I've had to make are tough decisions. They've dismayed people," he said, speaking about drastic cuts to social services such as Medicaid.

"You're not gonna be very popular when you do this, but anyone who's running against you has to say how they'd do it differently," he said.

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Two hundred to three hundred Iraqi civilians are killed each month, a number down a bit over the last year, according to a new study by the Congressional Research Service.

The study, which you can read here, looks at several different counts of civilian deaths, and notes that reporting on the deaths is still irregular, and methodologies variable. It was posted by Secrecy News.

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The DCCC is on the air with a new TV ad in the NY-23 special election, a Republican-held swing seat that opened up when Rep. John McHugh was appointed Secretary of the Army by President Obama. The new ad goes after the GOP nominee, state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, for voting for higher taxes -- the sort of attack we typically see Republicans launching against the Dems.

"Scozzafava was criticized for managing the investment arm of a company, whose subsidiaries owe $192,000 in back taxes," the announcer says. "The icing on the cake? She voted for more taxes and fees for you -- 190 times. Typical Albany politician Dede Scozzafava: A tax record we can't afford."

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) issued the following statement on Thursday supporting the FCC's development of new "net neutrality." Here's the full text:

"I proudly support net neutrality, and applaud Chairman Genachowski's proposal. The Internet belongs to all of us who use it to work, communicate, learn, and explore; telecommunications companies should not be allowed to decide who and what gets privileged access to this vital resource. I will continue to fight to expand broadband Internet access - and the free flow of information - to every community in America."

The White House released the following statement from President Obama on the interim appointment of Paul Kirk to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat:

"I am pleased that Massachusetts will have its full representation in the United States Senate in the coming months, as important issues such as health care, financial reform and energy will be debated. Paul Kirk is a distinguished leader, whose long collaboration with Senator Kennedy makes him an excellent, interim choice to carry on his work until the voters make their choice in January."