TPM News

On Hardball today, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich defended himself by pleading ignorance of the Constitution.

In his new book, The Governor, Blagojevich claims White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel asked him to appoint someone to Emanuel's old House seat, in case he wanted to run again in 2010. But House members, unlike senators, are never appointed, only elected.

Chris Matthews asked Blago today how it was possible he and Emanuel -- who served in the House for six years and was chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- didn't know that.

"I think you're giving me and Rahm too much credit. It's not like we know the Constitution backwards and forwards without talking to lawyers," he said, calling it a "good" and "appropriate" conversation.

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A new CNN poll finds that Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-SC) "You lie!" outburst remains a minority viewpoint among Americans -- though it is a significant minority.

The poll finds that 32% said that Obama lied while he was speaking to Congress, compared to 60% who don't think so. In addition, only 15% say that it was appropriate behavior for Wilson to shout out that Obama was lying, compared to 85% who say it was inappropriate.

Interestingly enough, an earlier question asks: "If Obama's plan became law, do you think that the federal government would or would not provide insurance to illegal immigrants?" This is the substance of the very matter that caused Wilson to shout out. Here it's much more divided, with 47% thinking it will happen and 49% saying it won't.

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During his seven years in prison, expelled congressman Jim Traficant (D-OH) took up painting to pass the time. When he was released this month, he promised to auction off some of those paintings to raise money for a group of retirees from his district.

Those paintings -- of a horse, Betty Boop and Elvis -- are now available on eBay. We've compiled them all into a Traficant slideshow for your viewing pleasure.

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The money keeps rolling in for both Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and his Democratic opponent, Iraq War veteran Rob Miller, in the wake of Wilson's "You lie!" incident.

The DCCC just announced that Miller's post-outburst fundraising has now reached over $1.5 million, and has come from over 40,000 individual donors.

On the other side, the NRCC has announced that Wilson has received more than $1.3 million -- which means that there's definitely a market for "You lie!"

This also means that both candidates will be very well-financed for the 2010 election, in what should now be a race that will attract a lot of national attention.

The latest cost estimate on the Senate Finance Committee's health care proposal is in, and it's slightly lower than the $900 billion that President Obama projected in his speech before Congress last week.

According to CBO, the proposal, circulated by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) would run about $880 billion over 10 years--lower than many experts believe would be necessary to make sure all consumers can afford private insurance. Baucus has said he plans to cover that price tag with efficiencies wrung from Medicare and Medicaid, as well as taxes and fees on health insurance companies and other industry stakeholders.

Baucus will reportedly unveil a draft of his bill tomorrow, and it committee hearings should begin next week.

President Obama will headline a health insurance reform rally in College Park, MD, on Thursday.

The rally will be held at 11 a.m. at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center. The event is free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis.

According to the White House press release:

In College Park on Thursday, President Obama will bring his plan for health insurance reform directly to Marylanders. He will discuss what's at stake for the American people in this debate - why we need health insurance reform and why we need to act now.

President Obama's health insurance reform plan has two goals--to bring stability and security to Americans who have insurance today, and affordable coverage to those who don't. And his plan will bring reforms that will reduce the unsustainable growth in the cost of health care, which has doubled in the last decade and will again, unless we act.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has released a statement, saying that he will oppose the Democrats' expected motion to admonish Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) for his "You lie!" outburst during President Obama's speech to Congress last week:

Rep. Wilson has apologized to the President, and the President accepted his apology. Last Thursday, Speaker Pelosi said that she believed it was time to move on and discuss health care. I couldn't agree more, and that's why I plan to vote 'no' on this resolution. Instead of pursuing this type of petty partisanship, we should be working together to lower costs and expand access to affordable, high-quality health coverage on behalf of the American people.


So the situation is now clear: Democrats will continue to pile on Wilson, while Republicans will circle their wagons and defend Wilson -- who is, of course, the new hero of the GOP grassroots. And for his part, Wilson will probably keep on doing his thing, if his Fox News Sunday appearance was any indication.

A new Research 2000 poll commissioned by Daily Kos has some interesting news for both Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and supporters of the public option.

Though Lincoln's favorable/unfavorable split is an unenviable 43 to 49, her potential opponents are still relatively unknown, and she maintains a considerable lead over all of them.

More interesting still is that respondents--600 likely voters--strongly favor "creating a government-administered health insurance option that anyone can purchase to compete with private insurance plans." The split on that score is 55 to 38. And remember, this is Arkansas, where Rush Limbaugh has a stronger approval rating than Barack Obama. Makes you think Lincoln could afford to be a bit more bullish on the public option than she has been of late.


Thousands of anti-reformers, organized by FreedomWorks and tea party groups across the country, march to the Capitol Sept. 12, 2009.

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Several people were carrying this "Bury ObamaCare with Kennedy" sign.

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The Obama/Hitler comparisons continue ...

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"He had a dream. We got a nightmare."

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If there's a sign that one faction is winning the tug-of-war between House progressives and conservative Senate Democrats over the public option, it may be coming from the Speaker's office.

Last Tuesday, when Nancy Pelosi emerged from the White House after a meeting with President Obama, she said that the fate of the public option would be determined in the legislative process, and she suggested that if Congress goes for a "trigger," it would be affixed to a Medicare-like public option.

On Thursday, she said "This is about a goal. It's not about provisions. As long as our goal of affordability and accessibility and quality, meeting the four...goals that we have in the legislation, then we will go forward with that bill."

But not two weeks ago, Pelosi insisted that a health care bill without a strong public option would not pass the House. That statement was of a piece with similar statements she'd made for weeks, which were based on the progressives' insistence that health care reform's passage depended on the public option.

In other words, since meeting with Obama--who's been notably solicitous of Senate moderates, and notably dismissive of House progressives--her public language has softened notably.

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