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At least four signatories to a July letter drawing a line in the sand over a public option have suggested that they may be willing to support a compromise proposal to "trigger" a public option only as a fallback if other reforms don't produce results on their own.

"Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates...is unacceptable," the letter read. "We simply cannot vote for such a proposal."

Among the signatories were Reps. Mike Capuano (D-MA) Jim McGovern (D-MA), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), and Sam Farr (D-CA), who now say that definitions of "public option" may vary.

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Here's a fun YouTube that's been making the rounds of the right-wing blogs, from an August 31 town hall by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) -- in which a woman literally dared him to come down and take her money right out of her hand.

Here you see a woman describing the Dem health care proposals as an effort to "plunder" from some in order to satisfy arbitrary needs as determined by bureaucrats. "So here is my question," the woman said. "If you are so keen to forcibly take from one person to give to another, who you deem as needier than me. If you believe that it is absolutely moral to take MY money and give to someone else based on their supposed needs, then you come and take this $20 from me and use it as a down payment on this health care plan."



To Dicks' credit, he did have the beginnings of a good response in turning down the money: "I can't accept a contribution like that." The problem was that his delivery, perhaps thrown off by the cheering Tea Party types, was too weak and apologetic. If he'd been a little more sarcastic, it would have been a great snappy comeback.

Karl Rove appeared on Fox News today, and joined in on the emerging right-wing line that the White House changed the text of the back-to-school speech -- which they say would have originally been aimed at political indoctrination of schoolchildren -- after conservatives objected. And Rove also charged that the whole speech is an improper use of government resources to advance President Obama's political profile.

"Oh, I bet it was," Rove said, when he was asked whether it was rewritten. "I mean, look, the White House was tone deaf, they clearly had a purpose here, which was, let's have the President speak to every student in the country, let's have a study guide, let's have them write the President and the President can write them back.

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Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), a three-term Congressman and medical doctor, will be giving the Republican response to President Obama's address on health care tomorrow night, George Stephanopoulos reports.

Greg Sargent reports that the speech will utilize the standard Republican talking points in this area -- that Democrats are refusing to work with Republicans, and that they'll put government bureaucrats between you and your doctor.

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A small group of protesters is demonstrating outside the Virginia school where President Obama will give a speech to students, the Associated Press reports. Some are holding signs that say, "Mr. President, stay away from our kids!"

A conservative group called Public Advocate of the United States covered Wakefield High School grounds with signs bearing the same slogan yesterday, and announced on its web site it was preparing a protest for today.

The group said it would hand out "Don't Tread On Me" flags and stickers to students to wear during Obama's speech.

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Hard to match this for chutzpah...

Allen Weh is running for the Republican nomination for governor of New Mexico. You'll remember Weh from the U.S. attorneys scandal, in which, as chair of the state GOP, he played a key role in pressing the Bush administration, successfully, to fire David Iglesias.

And in talking himself up in a Democratic-leaning state, Weh has been claiming that the Iglesias firing shows he's capable of taking on his own party!

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In an interview with The Daily Beast, embattled South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford said that "everybody is assigned their own secret-agent mission in life" while reflecting on his political and personal missteps.

"At times the tricky part, the hard part, is finding out what that secret-agent mission is," Sanford said. "Some of us do it early, some of us do it later in life." He also describes himself as a "wounded soldier" who "took [himself] off the battlefield."

The governor has been on a press binge in recent weeks, holding multiple press conferences to address growing impeachment rumors. He's also no stranger to such self-reflection via the press, as he recently wrote in a guest column for South Carolina newspaper The State: "While none of us has the chance to attend our own funeral, in many ways I feel like I was at my own in the past weeks, and surprisingly I am thankful for the perspective it has afforded."

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The Democratic National Committee is now rolling out a localized version of its "Republicans Want To End Medicare" ad, targeting individual House GOP members over a proposal from back in April to privatize Medicare for future generations of retirees (everyone currently 54 years and younger).

That proposal failed on a roll call vote, with every Democrat present and even 38 Republicans voting against it. And now, the Dems are using it as political fodder to go after some of those 137 House GOPers who did vote for it. Here's the version attacking its main sponsor, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI):



Other localized versions of this ad are also running against Lee Terry (NE), Patrick Tiberi (OH), Mary Bono Mack (CA), Don Young (AK), Michele Bachmann (MN), Jean Schmidt (OH), Erik Paulsen (MN), John Boehner (OH) and Eric Cantor (VA).

Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR)--the leader of the Blue Dogs' Health Care Task Force--says he will vote against health care legislation if it includes a public option.

"I have been skeptical about the public health insurance option from the beginning and used August to get feedback from you, my constituents," Ross wrote in a newsletter to constituents. "An overwhelming number of you oppose a government-run health insurance option and it is your feedback that has led me to oppose the public option as well."

"[I]f House leadership presents a final bill that contains a government-run public option, I will oppose it," he added.

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Liberals aren't particularly impressed with the draft health care legislation Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) circulated over the weekend...to say the least. But for reform-oriented members of the Senate the key at this point is simple: get the ball out of Baucus' court.

Though they were largely closed out of negotiations over health care legislation for the last several weeks, some members of the Senate Finance Committee--including Sens. Schumer, Rockefeller, and Kerry--do support a public option. But though Baucus' draft falls far short on that score, they'll almost certainly vote to move it forward anyhow.

"If they vote against it, it won't be in the Finance committee," says a Senate Democratic aide.

Once it's out of committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will take the lead in merging it with legislation voted out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee--and at that point, the fate of the public option in the Senate will be largely in his hands.

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