TPM News

President Obama will visit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast for the first time since taking office to see rebuilding progress firsthand, the White House announced today. Four years have passed since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita first devastated the area.

The visit will take place in mid-October. Obama has also signed an executive order extending the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Recovery and Rebuilding for another six months, an office first created in response to Hurricane Katrina on November 1, 2005. According to, the office was set to expire tomorrow, September 30.

Read the full White House announcement after the jump.

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Kentucky Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, who is running in a two-way Democratic primary for Senate in 2010, appears to have been caught on tape saying some nasty things about Gov. Steve Beshear -- who has endorsed his campaign.

A YouTube was first posted online last week by KY Revolution, a site supporting underdog Republican candidate Rand Paul (a son of Ron Paul), containing what sounds like Mongiardo accusing Beshear of doing nothing to help his campaign:

"Who's doing a fundraiser this quarter? Steve Beshear is -- for Steve Beshear, one in Lexington, and one in Louisville," Mongiardo is heard saying. "He is trying to dry my money up. He (Beshear) is screwing me every way possible, and what do I get out of it? "We finally begged him to show up for one in Northern Kentucky. He is not going to lift a finger, he is not going to do a damn thing, he is just going to show up and his name is going to be on the invite."

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The reform campaign Health Care for America Now is out with the following statement in the wake of today's votes on the Senate Finance Committee against the public option:

Today, a vast majority - more than ¾ - of the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee joined with all of the Democrats on the Senate HELP Committee to support giving us the choice of a strong public health insurance option. Now four of the five committees that have tackled health care legislation have included a public health insurance option, and the Senate Finance Committee as a whole has proven it's out of step with the rest of Congress, the President, and a large majority of the American public. As Senators Schumer and Rockefeller said, the public health insurance option is clearly gaining momentum, and we are confident it will be in the final bill that lands on the President's desk.

The Democratic Senators who spoke out in support of the public health insurance option today made it very clear they understand we cannot leave Americans out in the cold without real choice and competition and at the mercy of the private health insurance companies which will only continue to put their corporate profits before people's health care needs.

Echoing Sen. Jay Rockefeller's (D-WV) insistence this afternoon that the public option is not dead, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) declared on MSNBC's Hardball that the 13-10 vote rejecting his public option amendment to a Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill is a kinda-sorta victory.

"This was really good news for us," he said. "We're clearly not there, but not a single Democrat has said, 'I'm absolutely against the public option.' Chairman Baucus said he likes it but wants to see if it can get 60 votes, and we're feeling that we might get there."

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Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), chairman of a Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, will hold a hearing next week on President Obama's use of "czars."

Feingold has joined several Republicans and conservative talking heads in criticizing Obama over how many czars he's appointed. The term, although in no official title, applies to positions in the executive branch that don't need the approval of Congress. But several of the "czars" mentioned by Glenn Beck and the like actually have been approved by lawmakers.

Feingold is running for re-election next year.

The attack of these czars, at town halls and right-wing events, has been a conservative crowd-pleaser. For example, a speaker at the Take Back America Conference last week, attended by Mike Huckabee and other luminaries, called "diversity czar" Mark Lloyd the new Joseph Goebbels. Lloyd is the chief diversity officer at the Federal Communications Commission.

Feingold's hearing, called "Examining the History and Legality of Executive Branch Czars" will be had Oct. 6. The New York Times reports that, according to Feingold's office, the White House likely won't send representatives to the hearing.

Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds has a new TV ad in the Virginia gubernatorial race, continuing to hammer Republican Bob McDonnell's far-right grad school thesis.

"What kind of person writes a thesis calling working women 'detrimental to the family,' then lies about his opponent to cover up his own record?" the announcer asks. The announcer later says: "No matter what his ads say, Bob McDonnell can't cover up his record."

McDonnell has been running ads to rebut the thesis attacks, notably one that stars his Iraq veteran daughter. The message of this new Deeds ad is simple: Don't believe McDonnell.

Norman Hsu, the Democratic fundraiser whose criminal past became a scandal for Hillary Clinton during the primary in 2007, was sentenced to over 24 years in prison today for committing fraud and violating campaign finance laws, the AP reports.

Prosecutors said that Hsu used "straw donors" who he reimbursed to get around campaign finance limits. The Clinton campaign gave back over $800,000 in donations from sources linked to Hsu.

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Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) insisted a few minutes ago on CNN that the public option is not -- not -- dead. Even though the Senate Finance Committee rejected a public health insurance option today, not once, but twice when amendments by both Rockefeller and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that called for a public option were voted down -- 15-8 and 13-10, respectively.

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Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), who lost by a very narrow margin to Democrat Al Franken in the heavily-litigated 2008 Minnesota Senate race, doesn't appear to be done with politics just yet.

In a possible sign that Coleman could still be trying to maintain his profile among the Minnesota GOP grassroots, he has reportedly authored a fundraising letter for a real hero of the GOP base, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN):

Make no mistake about it -- this opposition isn't coming from the Minnesotans she represents in Washington. It's coming from the liberal netroots in places like San Francisco, Manhattan and Vermont. It's coming from the same people who bankrolled Al Franken's race against me and his legal battle to deny honest Minnesotans a fair vote last November.

(Emphasis in the original.)

The Bachmann campaign did not return our requests for comment.

(Via Dump Bachmann and Checks and Balances.)