TPM News

Today is a big day on Capitol Hill, featuring the rollout of the House Democrats' health care bill -- and possibly a Tea Party protest against it.

An e-mail was sent out last night on the Tea Party Patriots e-mail list, asking anyone within driving distance of Washington to head to the Capitol at 10 a.m., the scheduled time for the unveiling of the House health care bill.

The event has also been described in conservative Twitter-land, including Erick Erickson, as a "flash mob."

So will a bunch of people show up? Let's see what happens.

Check out the full e-mail after the jump.

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After House Democrats reveal their version of the health care bill this morning on the Capitol steps, President Obama later this afternoon will hold a private meeting with some of the most key groups he must keep united to pass a plan.

The White House says Obama will gather in the Roosevelt Room with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

As TPMDC has written, Obama's relations with these groups have not always been warm. Progressives were irritated the conservative Blue Dog Democrats were hosted at the White House to discuss health care last month.

On an unrelated note, we're wondering if Obama will discuss with the members of the minority caucuses the accusations from Republican lawmakers that the Council on American Islamic Relations planted spies on Capitol Hill as interns.

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, who seriously trailed Republican nominee Chris Christie in polls over the summer but has caught up in the past few weeks, has reportedly seen a heavy increase in White House involvement in his campaign during that same period of recovery.

The Politico reports that the White House sent senior adviser David Axelrod and political director Patrick Gaspard to New Jersey in August, to express the White House's concerns about the race. One Corzine aide said there was a message being sent that Corzine should consider dropping out of the race -- which Corzine never would have done -- but that allegation was denied by White House officials.

Corzine did end up replacing his pollster, Mark Mellman, with Obama pollster Joel Berenson, who is also experienced in New Jersey politics. In the time since then, Corzine has focused his attacks against Christie on key issues like health care -- especially his accusation that Christie's health insurance proposals would result in women losing mammogram coverage -- and allegations of Christie abusing his office as U.S. Attorney.

A coal industry group paid over $7 million last fiscal year to the company that hired Bonner & Associates, the astroturf lobbying firm behind those forged letters to Congress. That's according to internal documents obtained by congressional investigators and examined by TPMmuckraker.

Jack Bonner, the founder of the firm that bears his name, will go before a Congressional committee this morning to explain how those letters -- which purported to come from local community groups, and urged lawmakers to oppose climate change legislation -- got sent. Bonner has blamed the letters on a temporary employee, since fired, and claimed that it was a "victim of fraud" itself.

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As announced yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats will unveil the health care bill they plan to bring to the floor this morning. The long awaited legislation will come in at under $900 billion. Like the Senate bill, its public option will reimburse providers at negotiated rates--though unlike in the Senate bill, states will not be allowed to opt out.

Pelosi had pushed in recent days for a more robust public option, which would have saved more money. To make up for those lost savings, the House bill will lower the Medicaid threshold to 150 percent of the poverty line (it was originally expected to cover everybody below 133 percent of poverty).

The employer and individual mandates will be more robust than in the Senate bill, and, as a result, the bill is expected to cover millions more Americans. The $900 billion will be covered by a mix of taxes on high-income earners, industry contributions and savings wrung from existing government health care programs. That means it will not expand the deficit for at least the first 10 years.

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Obama Seeks Additional Study On Afghanistan Situation The Washington Post reports that President Obama has asked for a province-by-province analysis of the situation in Afghanistan, on the performance of local leaders and the different needs for additional help. Said a U.S. official who request anonymity: "How do you separate those who have taken up arms because they oppose the presence of foreigners in their area, because they're getting paid to fight us because we're there, from those who want to restore a Taliban government? How many of the people who we're fighting actually share al-Qaeda's ideology?"

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama last night visited the remains of fallen Americans, returning home from Afghanistan. Today, Obama will deliver remarks at 11:50 a.m. ET, on the administration's plans to help small businesses. He will meet at 1:45 p.m. ET with Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. He will meet at 2:40 p.m. ET with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). At 3:15 p.m. ET, he will sign the Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act. He will meet at 3:45 p.m. ET with senior advisers. and at 5:05 p.m. ET with representatives of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

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President Obama before dawn this morning paid tribute to the 18 U.S. military personnel killed in Afghanistan Monday, making a surprise trip to Dover Air Force Base as their bodies returned home to the United States.

The solemn visit - Obama's first such experience since taking office and lifting the ban on photographing the war dead - comes as he's wrestling with a decision to send up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

(See slideshow here.)

The White House pool was summoned just before midnight to witness the moment. TPMDC has the details.

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Today, everyone's officially on the same page. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and his leadership team, and the White House all stand behind the Senate health care bill, which, as we learned this week, includes a public option. But the days leading up to Reid's big Monday announcement were perhaps more trying for leading Democrats than has been publicly acknowledged, or than today's picture of calm would lead you to believe.

Much of the hoopla surrounding Reid's decision centers around a tense Thursday night meeting between President Obama and Senate health care principals--including Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)--at the White House. But according to sources briefed on White House-Senate health care negotiations, things began boiling over earlier in the week, when a key question was, Who's going to take the blame when the public option doesn't make it in to the base health care bill?

According to a source briefed on White House-Senate health care negotiations, the public option's saving grace was its political popularity with the Democratic base. The source described the back and forth between Senate health care principals and the White House as a "sort of stare down where the two sides were saying, 'you be the face of pulling it out.' Reid wants Obama to do it to give cover to his caucus, Obama wants Reid to do it so he's not the bad guy on the public option, and can still walk away with a win with reform, with bipartisanship, and with a card for everybody running for re-election."

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It's been two days since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a health care bill with a public option that will allow states to opt-out.

As TPMDC wrote earlier, we still don't know the mechanism for how the states would get out (or in, if that were to happen) of the public option, but we took stock of some of the candidates for governor in Tuesday's races.

Our question: Would your state opt out of a public option?

The basic tally:

In New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) would not. Challenger Chris Christie (R) would.

In Virginia, Bob McDonnell (R) would opt out and Creigh Deeds (D) is leaning toward opting out.

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