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The Republicans who most vociferously blasted the Obama Administration for putting the attempted Christmas bombing suspect through the criminal justice system have apparently been silent on another high-profile terrorism case making its way through the civilian system.

Najibullah Zazi on Monday pleaded guilty in federal court to a plot to detonate explosives in the New York subway system. The government says that Zazi, a legal resident from Afghanistan, got training in 2008 from al Qaeda in Pakistan, and was motivated by anger over civilian deaths in his home country.

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The Senate Democrats' top budget guy told reporters today that the Senate can't pass a reconciliation package tweaking a comprehensive health care bill unless the House passes the Senate bill first. And if the House won't do that, he says health care reform is "dead."

"The only way this works is for the House to pass the Senate bill and then, depending on what the package is, the reconciliation provision that moves first through the House and then comes here," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) outside the upper chamber this morning. "That's the only way that works."

I pointed out that House leadership, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has repeatedly insisted they won't take a flier on a reconciliation package--that they will only pass the Senate bill after the smaller side-car reconciliation bill has been all wrapped up.

"Fine, then it's dead," Conrad said.

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It's getting harder and harder for Jeb Bush to hide whose side he's on in the Florida GOP Senate primary. In a new interview with Newsmax, Bush took his successor, Gov. Charlie Crist, to task over his support for the economic recovery package, calling Crist's decision to back the plan "unforgivable." Then he attacked Crist's attempts to back away from the decision as Marco Rubio gained traction in the primary race.

"He did it the day before the [stimulus] vote, it was a mistake, and then he denies that he would have supported the bill," Bush said. "I know I'm supposed to be politically correct, and I said I was neutral and all that, [but] I got a problem with that."

The video is after the jump.

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Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the single most vulnerable incumbent Republican Senator this year, has a message going into the campaign in his swing state: It's impossible for anybody to get to his right.

Burr is facing a primary challenge from two Republican candidates, Asheboro Councilman Eddie Burks and businessman Brad Jones. Burr is heavily favored to win his primary, and he told the Raleigh News & Observer that he's not too worried about it. "The fact is it is impossible for any candidate to get to the right of me from an ideological standpoint of my record," said Burr. "That is where anybody would have to attempt to make any progress in a Republican primary."

This is an interesting comment from a Senator in a swing state that narrowly voted for Barack Obama in 2008. As we've noted before, Burr's poll numbers show that he is neither popular nor unpopular, but that many voters still don't have an impression of him after the last five years of his service. Don't be surprised if the Democrats use this quote a lot, in order to introduce him to moderate voters.

Insurance executives will be in the hot seat today as Congress probes scheduled health insurance rate increases for Anthem Blue Cross customers in California.

Democrats are putting the spotlight on Californians hurt by the rate hikes as witnesses today to put a real face on why health care reform is necessary. The Energy and Commerce panel's Oversight subcommittee hearing examining the rate increases was put together fairly quickly. From a political perspective, it's nicely timed to coincided with President Obama's health care summit tomorrow at the White House.

An executive from Anthem's parent company WellPoint told a California state Assembly panel yesterday they will forge ahead with the increases of as much as 39 percent after May 1, according to the Los Angeles Times. Earlier this month, Anthem was ordered to delay the increases to that spring date by the state's insurance commissioner.

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The new Quinnipiac poll in the Ohio Senate race gives Republican candidate Rob Portman a narrow lead in the race for this state's open Senate seat, which is currently held by retiring two-term Republican Sen. George Voinovich.

Portman leads Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher by 40%-37%, and leads Dem Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner by 40%-35%. This is essentially unchanged from this past November, when Portman led Fisher by 39%-36% and Brunner by 38%-34%. In the Democratic primary, Fisher leads Brunner by 29%-20%.

Yesterday's Quinnipiac numbers on the gubernatorial race showed Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland retaking the lead over Republican former Rep. John Kasich, leading Kasich by 44%-39% after the race was tied 40%-40% in November. At the same time, only 44% of Ohioans approved of President Obama's performance, with 52% disapproving -- and it could be that this disapproval of Democrats at the federal level is still keeping the Dem candidates down in the Senate race.

Feb. 3, 2010: President Obama and Vice President Biden walk along the Colonnade.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 2, 2010: President Obama signs a note on the back of aide Reggie Love after a town hall meeting.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 3, 2010: President Obama walks with staff towards the Oval Office after speech.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 3, 2010: President Obama speaks to a bipartisan group of governors.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 3, 2010: President Obama is greeted by a group of Democratic senators.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 4, 2010: President Obama signs pictures and other items before a speech.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 4, 2010: President Obama greets attendees after making remarks.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Feb. 5, 2010: President Obama greets area students during their visit to the Oval Office.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 5, 2010: President Obama poses with Little League World Championship team from Chula Visa, CA.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 5, 2010: President Obama greets a student visiting the Oval Office.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 6, 2010: President Obama holds a child after speaking at a DNC meeting.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 9, 2010: First Lady Michelle Obama hugs a student before an event announcing the launch of her childhood obesity campaign.

Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton

Feb. 10, 2010: President Obama and House Republican Leader John Boehner discuss the economy and jobs in a bipartisan meeting.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 10, 2010: Bo, the Obama family pet, plays in the snow during a blizzard.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 11, 2010: President Obama listens to Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel during a policy meeting in the Roosevelt Room.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 12, 2010: President Obama laughs during a meeting.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 12, 2010: President Obama in the Oval Office.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 17, 2010: President Obama Vice President Biden meet with military officials.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 18, 2010: President Obama meets with Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Feb. 18, 2010: First Lady Michelle Obama greets a worker at the Fresh Grocer Store in Philadelphia.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Feb. 18, 2010: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner laughs at the Fresh Grocer Store in Philadelphia.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Feb. 21, 2010: First Lady Michelle Obama introduces the entertainment for the Governors Ball.

Newscom/SipaPress.

Feb. 21, 2010: President Obama offers a toast at the 2010 Governor's Ball.

Newscom/Sipa Press

Feb. 21, 2010: President Obama at the 2010 Governor's Ball.

Newscom/Sipa Press

Feb. 21, 2010: First Lady MIchelle Obama raises her glass as President Obama delivers a toast at the 2010 Governor's Ball.

Newscom/SipaPress

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) says there's no sense in trying at this point. The public option should be put aside for the moment, so that health care reform can pass unperturbed--particularly because the measure on offer has already been watered down to a great degree.

"I fought for a meaningful public option, both in the Senate Finance Committee and on the Senate floor," Rockefeller says in a new statement. "My version didn't pass out of committee and other versions were watered down. Unfortunately, there simply has not been enough support to date to pass a strong public option, despite these efforts."

I will continue to support viable options for enacting a robust public plan. Right now, however, there is no value for the American people in diminishing a meaningful public option so substantially that it exists in name only -- and that is why we must focus our attention on the many great private health insurance reform ideas on the table today.


Rockefeller took a similar position on the issue of drug reimportation--a policy he supports and which may have had enough votes to pass in the Senate, but which was met with resistance by leading Democrats seeking to preserve industry's support for health care reform. You can read the entire statement below the fold.

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