TPM News

There's a lot of action going on behind the scenes in the Senate, particularly regarding a public option compromise, and the big question is will liberal (or conservative) Democrats go for it.

Leadership is working with them, and that might explain the silence, but I ran into Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) earlier today, who said he's working with "various senators" on the compromise.

I asked him whether caucus liberals have been receptive to the ongoing talks.

"They know we have to get 60 votes," he said.

Not a whole lot to go on there, but it doesn't sound like they're making a huge stink. Expect more on this soon.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is taping robocalls urging independent voters to support his amendment to send the health care reform bill back to committee.

Hotline on Call (sub. req.) reports that the robocall, paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, will target independents in Colorado, Arkansas and Nebraska -- constituents of moderate Democratic senators Michael Bennet (CO), Blanche Lincoln (AR) and Ben Nelson (NE).

In the call, McCain urges voters to go to a web site called healthcaretaskforce.org (which redirects to healthcare.nrsc.org), where they can sign a petition encouraging their senators to vote for McCain's amendment.

Read More →

If Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) gets his way, the dilatory tactics that have marked the early days of the Senate health care debate will grow more and more severe.

"We, the minority party, must use the tools we have under Senate rules to insist on a full, complete and fully informed debate on the health care legislation - as well as all legislation - coming before the Senate," Gregg wrote in a letter to Republican colleagues yesterday. "As laid out in the attached document, we have certain rights before measures are considered on the floor as well as certain rights during the actual consideration of measures. Every Republican senator should be familiar with the scope of these rights, which serve to protect our ability to speak on behalf of the millions of Americans who depend on us to be their voice during this historic debate."

Gregg says Republicans should be prepared to filibuster every motion, "with the exception of Conference Reports and Budget Resolutions, most such motions are fully debatable and 60 votes for cloture is needed to cut off extended debate."

Read More →

Liz Cheney, a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and herself a former State Department official, has released this statement on President Obama's Afghanistan speech:

"I support President Obama's decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan to defeat the enemy. I do not support the establishment of timelines for withdrawal. Success must be our only exit strategy. The delay in making the decision has done real damage. It has left doubts among our friends and enemies about America's commitment to winning the war. Afghanistan is a necessary war that must be won. America's military men and women are the best the world has ever known and I have no doubt they can do what is necessary to take this fight to the enemy and win."


It's interesting to see Liz Cheney complain about how a delay in decision-making on Afghanistan "has done real damage." She is, of course, totally innocent of being involved in any administration that might have delayed on Afghanistan...

The Democratic Governors Association chose new leadership today, with members selecting Delaware Gov. Jack Markell as chair and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley as vice chair.

The association also unveiled the GOP Accountability Project, a new multimillion-dollar effort to highlight Republicans who advocate failed policies. The Democratic Governors Association said it will spend at least $5 million on the initiative in California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, and Ohio.

MoveOn.org has sent an e-mail to its members today saying that while "some" members support President Obama's decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, "a significant majority think escalating the war is wrong." And, according to MoveOn, almost all of them want the war to end soon.

Nearly all MoveOn members agree that we must have a clear military exit strategy with a firm timeline so we can end the war quickly.


And this:

President Obama said he'll begin withdrawing troops in July, 2011, but news reports are already suggesting that withdrawal could be very limited, so pressure from Congress will be key.


MoveOn is pushing its members to "act now to make sure our representatives and senators hold him to that" -- by signing an e-petition.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says that health care reform will spell bad news for America's seniors and has introduced an amendment to recommit the entire health care bill to the Finance Committee and have it stripped of all its Medicare fixes.

And for his efforts, two of the largest senior citizens organizations in the country are saying thanks, but no thanks.

"[W]e oppose the amendment offered by Senator McCain to recommitt [Senate health care legislation] to the Senate Finance Committee," reads a letter from AARP to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

CEO Addison Barry Rand says "the legislation does not reduce any guaranteed Medicare benefits."

Similarly a letter from the Alliance for Retired Americans to members of the Senate reads, "The Alliance for Retired Americans, on behalf of its nearly four million members throughout the nation, opposes the motion by Senator John McCain to commit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care America Act, H.R. 3590, to the Finance Committee. We urge its prompt defeat by the Senate."

Read More →

The beleaguered Washington Times announced "significant" reductions to its staff of 370 today.

In response to "marketplace realities", "the company is aggressively working to achieve efficiencies of scale that must include significant staff reduction of its 370 personnel," said Publisher Jonathan Slevin.

The Times statement does not give an exact number of layoffs, and a spokesman did not respond to a phone call. According to a source who attended an afternoon staff meeting, management said that 40 percent of staff would be laid off (Politico's Michael Calderone is hearing the same figure).

Two newsroom sources tell TPM that staffers were told a new plan, as laid out in the press release, would be instituted in 60 days -- early February -- and those who are not needed in the plan will lose their jobs. Staffers in two areas not mentioned in today's statement -- Metro and Sports -- are particularly worried.

Read More →


December 1: President Obama makes the case for his administration's new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. Click here for the full text of the speech.

Newscom/pts




President Obama speaks before a crowd of over 4,000 cadets and soldiers in West Point's Eisenhower Hall.

Newscom/pts




Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were among several members of the president's national security team in attendance at West Point.

Roger L. Wollenberg/Pool/Sipa Press




West Point officer cadets listen as President Obama announces his new Afghanistan policy. The president declared that Afghanistan was not another Vietnam.

Newscom/pts




President Obama greets cadets after outlining his decision to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan by about 30,000.

SIPA USA/SIPA




President Obama flanked by cadets in West Point's Eisenhower Hall .

Newscom/pts

An all-staff meeting has been called at the Washington Times, to be held at 3:30 ET in the newspaper's ballroom today.

This e-mail from the paper's vice president for human resources went out at about 2:45 p.m. today:

Read More →

TPMLivewire