TPM News

On the day the Senate Finance Committee is expected to take up its final vote on its version of a health care reform bill, small business leaders are rallying across the country in support of the inclusion of a public option in any reform package passed by the committee.

The Main Street Alliance -- a coalition of small business owners across the country -- is sponsoring today's rallies, which will bring business owners and lawmakers together in 11 states.

The group says the goal of the rallies is to "urge" members of the committee "and leaders in both chambers to include a public option, true affordability measures, and to replace the flawed 'free rider' proposal with fair employer contribution."

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Reached on her cell phone by TPMmuckraker and informed of the $20,000 fine imposed on her by a federal judge this morning, Birther attorney Orly Taitz responded, first, with laughter.

"So he didn't recuse himself?" Taitz asked, after letting out an extended, nervous-sounding chuckle.

Still defiant after months of legal wrangling and, by our count, three written denunciations by federal district court Judge Clay Land, Taitz said she had absolutely no plans to pay the $20,000 fine.

"Are you kidding? Of course not," she said, asked whether she planned to send a check. "This is a form of intimidation."

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The Center for American Progress issued a statement today from "leading health care experts" on the "misleading AHIP report" about the Senate Finance Committee health insurance reform bill. The statement is signed by Henry J. Aaron of the Brookings Institution; David Cutler of Harvard University; Judy Feder of Georgetown University, and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress; Elliott S. Fisher of Dartmouth Medical School; Arnold Milstein of the Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine; Len Nichols of the New America Foundation; and Meredith Rosenthal of Harvard University. Here's the full text:

Recently America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) released a study that claims the reform plan being developed by the Senate Finance Committee would dramatically raise the cost of health insurance. We believe the study is flawed and that the results are not credible.

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The newest TV ad from Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) continues the attack against Republican nominee Chris Christie, for supporting the legalization of insurance policies not subject to state mandates to cover certain procedures -- and in the latest ad, some of those mandates are listed one by one.

"Where's Chris Christie on health care? With the insurance industry," the announcer says. "He'd let them drop coverage for mammograms. For prostate cancer screenings. Autism screenings. They could force new mothers and their babies out of the hospital sooner."

The announcer later adds: "The insurance industry doesn't need a governor. We do."

The RNC launched a new version of its GOP.com homepage this morning and in a statement, party chair Michael Steele said the homepage was the reflection of his vision for the GOP:

"When I ran for RNC Chairman, I committed to improving the Republican Party's online ability to inform our grassroots supporters and mobilize them behind important issues, while also electing our great candidates. With the new GOP.com that went live today, the RNC will be able to accomplish exactly that."

Just a few hours after the launch, though, Democrats are claiming the site reflects the party's current state more than its future. Flying around Twitter this morning is a link to the new site's "Future GOP leaders" page. Instead of fresh faces, it the page lists "404 Error: This page could not be found."

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The new survey of New Jersey from Public Policy Polling (D) confirms the trend of this gubernatorial race coming down the wire, with Republican Chris Christie ahead of Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine by just one point.

The numbers: Christie 40%, Corzine 39%, and independent Chris Daggett 13%, with a ±4.1% margin of error. A month ago, Christie had a much bigger lead of 44%-35%-13%.

The pollster also asked respondents about an emerging question in this race: Is Corzine attacking Christie for his weight?

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Finally fed up with Orly Taitz's repeated frivolous and conspiracy-ridden filings in a Birther lawsuit, the judge in the case has fined the crusading attorney $20,000.

Opening with a quote from Justice Cardozo on the privilege of bar membership, Judge Clay Land of the U.S. District Court in the Middle District Of Georgia goes on for some length -- the order is 43 pages -- explaining his reasoning:

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Accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers has issued a statement about the audit it performed for America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) that we have been following closely.

Most notable about the statement, issued late last night, is an acknowledgment the cost savings from the bill weren't included, though PWC points out that is noted on page one of the report.

The statement in full after the jump.

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Ever wonder what happened to the SEC staffers and supervisors who, for nearly two decades, managed to miss Bernie Madoff's multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, despite a persistent whistle-blower and multiple inquiries -- a monumental level of incompetence that "astonished" even Madoff himself?

Well, some saw their failures rewarded with high-paying private-sector jobs, while others are still at the agency, charged with catching the next Madoff.

Via CNN, here's a quick look at what happened to some of the major players.

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