TPM News

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."

Read More →

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.

Read More →

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.

Read More →

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.)

I just spoke to Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life conservative organization the Susan B. Anthony List, and she indicated to me that the national Republican Party will be facing a backlash for supporting a pro-choice Republican candidate in the upcoming NY-23 special election, a swing seat formerly held by Republican Rep. John McHugh, who is now President Obama's Secretary of the Army.

I started off by asking Dannenfelser, whose organization has endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, whether she's worried about splitting the conservative vote and handing the election to the Democrat.

"Normally in many situations that certainly can be the case, and we wouldn't want to have somebody that will end up voting for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, that's for sure," said Dannenfelser. "But in this case it's just such a different district, and their self-identification is so in line with Hoffman. It's a shame he didn't get the Republican nomination, because he actually seems like a Republican, and the Republican nominee doesn't seem like a Republican."

Read More →

A mailer being sent by health insurers to seniors, and obtained by TPMmuckraker, seeks to exploit fears about Congressional changes to the health care system to sell supplemental insurance. And it contains false claims about "new" reductions in Medicare benefits imposed by Congress.

Yesterday, 66-year-old Donna Price of Battle Ground, Washington, received this official-looking mailer in a pull-apart envelope from direct mail firm Target Leads (aka TL Service Center).

It announces: "IMPORTANT: NEW MEDICARE CHANGES." And continues:

Read More →

The Senate Finance Committee can't even endorse a modest public option like Chuck Schumer's. Citing his belief that a public option can't pass on the Senate floor "at this time," Finance chairman Max Baucus joined two Democrats and all Republicans in voting down the amendment, which failed 10 to 13.

Joining Baucus on the Democrats' side of the dais were Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and, by proxy, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) who wasn't present for the vote.

There will be no public option in the Finance Committee's health care bill.

TPMLivewire