TPM News

President Obama spoke today about the state dinner security breach, admitting that "the system didn't work the way it was supposed to."

But Obama also told USA Today and the Detroit Free Press that he has full confidence in the Secret Service and feels safe in the White House.

"I could not have more confidence in the Secret Service," he said. "I trust them 100%, not just with me but with my wife and my children."

Key Democrats in the Senate, accompanied by party leadership, are bearing down on a solution to the public option problem that has dogged the caucus for months now. They're holding a constant series of meetings, bringing liberals and conservatives together to reach a compromise--seemingly modeled on a trigger--that can garner 60 votes. And interestingly, one key public option supporter seems pleased.

"There's sort of a new initiative on the public option, which is highly useful, without saying anything more about it," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). "There's going to be a group of people representing various points of view who are going to just closet themselves and try and resolve this so we can have something on the floor that can pass," he said.

"It's been taking place, it's ongoing, several different rooms, several different groups," said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin.

Included in the meeting, according to Durbin, are the well-known public option skeptics, and, on the other side of the party, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

"I'm doing my best to do what I can do," Sanders said.

"It's one of the two, i think, really critical issues remaining, with the issue of abortion," Durbin said.

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America's Health Insurance Plans CEO Karen Ignagni is speaking today about health care at the Detroit Economic Club and says the bills being debated do not sufficiently address cost containment.

"As far as cost containment is concerned, it's as though the house is on fire and the strategy is to rush to the scene with an eight-ounce glass of water," she said.

Readers will recall that in October AHIP commissioned PriceWaterhouse Coopers to do a report showing that insurance premiums would rise under the bills being considered on Capitol Hill.

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Americans for Legal Immigration PAC has withdrawn its support from Lou Dobbs because he's not anti-immigration enough for them.

Citing his shift in stance on immigration policy shown by recent comments that suggest he supports "some kind of path to citizenship for illegal immigrants," ALIPAC says that's "inconsistent with positions of ALIPAC and the views of most American citizens."

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A new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of Arkansas finds that Sen. Blanche Lincoln could be vulnerable to a Democratic primary challenge -- potentially putting her between a rock and a hard place as she fights for re-election in a conservative-trending Southern state.

In a match-up against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who is not a candidate at this time but has been rumored as a possible challenger, Lincoln has only 42% support to Halter's 26%. The margin of error is ±5%.

Democratic voters were also asked: "If Senator Blanche Lincoln joins a Republican filibuster of the Democratic health care reform plan, for whom would you vote for in the Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate if the choices were between Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter and U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln?" The answer here is Lincoln 37%, Halter 27%.

Both Lincoln and the lesser-known Halter would be in for a tough race against the Republicans. Lincoln edges state Sen. Gilbert Baker by 42%-41%, while Baker leads Halter by 42%-34%. Lincoln is ahead of businessman Curtis Coleman by 44%-39%, while Coleman leads Halter by 40%-35%. Lincoln leads Tom Cox by 45%-31%, and Halter is ahead of Cox by 36%-32%. Lincoln leads state Sen. Kim Hendren by 46%-30%, and Halter leads Hendren by 36%-31%. The margin of error is ±4%.

So, what to make of those emails, stolen from a top climate research center in Britain, that conservatives are excitedly touting to argue that the science of climate change is fatally flawed?

The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger calls the episode "an epochal event" that shows "science is dying." But underneath the bombast, the key question is whether the emails -- hacked from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU), and indexed here -- actually undermine the case, now settled, that man-made warming is happening. And despite the claims of the New York Post, among others, they don't come close to doing so.

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President Obama may be struggling against an obstructionist minority. And many see him as ineffectual because of that. But there's another center-left leader facing an obstructionist and factionalized right. And for him it seems to be working out really well. Let's take a trip to the other side of the world, at the current story of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Rudd's Labor Party (a rough counterpart to our Democrats) was trying to hammer out a deal on cap-and-trade with Malcolm Turnbull, the leader of the opposition Liberal Party (the Aussie equivalent of the Republicans, and historically the dominant party). Nobody holds a majority in the upper house, so Rudd had to build some kind of consensus.

But in the last few weeks, Turnbull was facing a revolt from his right-wingers -- which the Inhofe-style right finally won in the last few days.

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From Brian Beutler on the Hill:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller didn't offer much detail, but told reporters on Capitol Hill this afternoon there are new talks going on to negotiate a public option that's amenable to both conservative Democrats and those who share his views on wanting a more robust public option.

"There's sort of a new initiative on the public option, which is highly useful, without saying anything more about it," said Rockefeller (D-WV).

"There's going to be a group of people representing various points of view who are going to just closet themselves and try and resolve this so we can have something on the floor that can pass," he said.

An amendment to the Senate health care bill, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), became the first amendment voted on in the Senate.

Mikulski's amendment requires insurers to cover preventive care and screenings for women, at no cost to the patient. The amendment passed 60 to 39.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) attached a secondary amendment to Mikulski's last night, which states that new mammogram guidelines released this year by the U.S Preventive Service Task Force cannot prevent women from receiving mammograms.

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