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Public Option May Be Dropped The Obama administration appears to be getting closer to dropping the public option as a proposal, shifting to a co-op plan with a better chance of passing. "The president is going to continue to try to persuade everyone of the great value of having a true public plan," an unnamed Democrat close to the White House told the New York Times. "But at the end of the day, I believe he recognizes that there are other, arguably less effective, ways to achieve greater coverage, more choice, better quality and lower cost in our system."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will deliver remarks at the VFW National Convention in Phoenix, at 2 p.m. ET. He and the First Lady will depart from Phoenix at 3:20 p.m. ET, and arrive back at the White House at 7:35 p.m. ET.

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Obama On Death Panel Smear: "I Just Lost My Grandmother Last Year" At his town hall meeting on health insurance reform yesterday, President Obama fired back at the "death panel" smear. "I just lost my grandmother last year. I know what it's like to watch somebody you love, who's aging, deteriorate and have to struggle with that," Obama said, attacking those who would put forward "the notion that somehow I ran for public office or members of Congress are in this so they can go around pulling the plug on grandma."

Sebelius: Death Panel Scare Attack Is "Horrific" Appearing on This Week, of Sec. of Health and Human Services fired back at the "death panel" attack, -- but also conceded that end-of-life counseling is likely to be taken out of the bill. "And I think it's really horrific that some opponents of the health reform bill have used this painful, personal moment to try and scare people about what is in the bill," said Sebeilus.

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Obama: We Have Rationed Care And Bureaucracy Right Now In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama set out to debunk the attacks against his health care proposals -- and put the blame squarely on insurance companies with a vested interest in the status quo, who commit the same abuses that opponents of reform are warning against:



"If you're worried about rationed care, higher costs, denied coverage, or bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor, then you should know that's what's happening right now," said Obama. "In the past three years, over 12 million Americans were discriminated against by insurance companies due to a preexisting condition, or saw their coverage denied or dropped just when they got sick and needed it most."

Hatch: Town Hall Protestors Are Not "Un-American" In this weekend's Republican address, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that Republican do support meaningful reforms in health insurance -- and attacked Democrats over their health care plans and for belittling protestors at town halls:



"I am disappointed about the attempts to characterize the behavior of Americans expressing their concerns as 'un-American,'" said Hatch. "Although I strongly encourage the use of respectful debate in these town halls, we should not be stifling these discussions. There is nothing 'un-American' about disagreements. In fact, our great nation was founded on speaking our minds."

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White House Butler Von Everett pumps up a basketball for the president.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama in the Green Room.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama, on stage with Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, talks about health care during a town hall meeting at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

White House photo / Pete Souza




After meeting with the Columbus Crew, the 2008 MLS Cup champions, President Obama tosses a soccer ball.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama shakes Rep. Charles Rangel's (D-NY) hand at a meeting with members of Congress.

White House photo / Pete Souza




The president gets punchy while talking health care reform with Nancy-Ann DeParle, Peter Orszag, Phil Schiliro and Larry Summers.

White House photo / Pete Souza




Supporters greet Obama at Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich.

White House / Pete Souza




President Obama warms up before throwing the first pitch at the MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis.

White House / Pete Souza




Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) with the president in the Oval Office.

White House / Pete Souza




President Obama greets the Gramajo family, participants inthe Make-A-Wish Foundation.

White House / Pete Souza




President Obama welcomes the family of newly appointed FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to the Oval Office.

White House / Pete Souza




Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) talks health care reform with the president. Joining them are White House advisors Phil Schiliro and Nancy-Ann DeParle.

White House / Pete Souza




Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and advisor Phil Schiliro meet with the president in the Oval Office.

White House / Pete Souza




President Obama attends a bipartisan meeting of freshman House members in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

White House / Pete Souza




Advisors and speechwriters speak to the president as he prepares to make a statement about health care.

White House / Pete Souza




Obama and aides talk health care.

White House / Pete Souza




Obama and senior staffers play basketball at Camp David.

White House / Pete Souza




The president congratulates students from the "Math Counts" program.

White House / Pete Souza




Country musician Brad Paisley performs at a White House event celebrating country music.

White House / Pete Souza




Communications Director Anita Dunn, Senior Advisor David Axelrod, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, President Obama, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs before a meeting in the Oval Office.

White House / Pete Souza

Although the audience mostly lobbed softballs (including one woman who just wanted to read the preamble to the Montana constitution), President Obama got a few of the tough questions he was reportedly hoping for at today's town hall in Montana.

One man, who identified himself as a "proud NRA member," asked how Obama planned to pay for health care reform.

"All we get is bull," he said. "You can't tell how you're gonna pay for this ... the only way to get it is to raise our taxes."

Obama responded that reform, which will cost about $800 to $900 billion over 10 years, will be two-thirds paid for by improving efficiency and cutting subsidies to insurance companies. The other third, he said, would come from raising taxes -- really, lowering deductions -- for people making more than $250,000 a year.

"There's nothing wrong with me paying a little bit more to help people that have a little bit less," he said.

Another one came after Obama specifically asked for someone who was "skeptical" of the reform plan. The questioner was an insurance salesman, and he asked why the president is trying to "vilify" health insurance companies.

"My intent is not to vilify the insurance companies," Obama said. "We want to make sure the practices that are very tough on people, those practices change."

He had, however, opened the town hall with remarks aimed against the insurance industry, saying, "We are held hostage ... by health insurance companies."

The ninth and last comment came from a woman who wanted Obama, "as a constitutional scholar," to hear the preamble to the Montana constitution, which she read. Obama thanked her.

Turns out Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who brought heat upon himself and his company yesterday by penning an anti-health care reform op-ed in the Wall Street Journal--has at least one familiar defender: Clinton special counsel, and Lieberman ally Lanny Davis.

"The John Mackey piece, which I actually helped him a little bit on, has really been distorted as often happened in the blogosphere where people have short attention span," Davis told me.

Davis represented Whole Foods in a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission, in which they charged that the upscale grocery store giant was engaging in monopolistic practices. Davis is a supporter of single payer health care, but, he says, disagreements with Mackey aside, Whole Foods is a progressive company that has instituted a strict cap on executive compensation and that provides 100 percent of their employees with health insurance. (Mackey says that Whole Foods covers 100 percent of premiums for 89 percent of all employees.)

Davis says the dust up over Mackey's op-ed is "an example of how we on the left start to mirror the extreme tactics on the right."

"He didn't attack Obama. It was an issues oriented piece."

In the wake of yesterday's controversial piece, health care reform supporters have threatened to boycott Whole Foods.

The American right wing's attack on the British National Health Service is now getting a strong rebuke -- from the British right wing, who are joining in on the Twitter campaign of Britons proud of the NHS.

Among the many British politicians, journalists and Twitter users chipping in to debunk the attacks on the NHS is now Conservative Party Leader David Cameron, who is heavily favored to win the next election and become Prime Minister. He's now blogged in support of the pro-NHS Twitter campaign:

People still care about the issues they care about, and thanks to the internet they can voice their concerns whenever they want. Just look at all the support which the NHS has received on Twitter over the last couple of days. It is a reminder - if one were needed - of how proud we in Britain are of the NHS.

Millions of people are grateful for the care they have received from the NHS - including my own family. One of the wonderful things about living in this country is that the moment you're injured or fall ill - no matter who you are, where you are from, or how much money you've got - you know that the NHS will look after you.

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Dick Armey, the former House Majority Leader, is leaving his job with top Washington lobbying firm DLA Piper, citing negative attention that the firm is receiving thanks to the role of Armey's corporate-backed outfit, FreedomWorks, in turning out protesters to shut down town hall meetings on health care.

In a Friday afternoon news dump, Armey, a committed anti-government extremist, gave Politico the following statement:

It is painful and frustrating to see a good, decent, able and effective partnership of honorable men and women and their clients attacked for things in which they are not involved simply because of their association with me. One would expect a higher degree of competence and professionalism from members of the media than spurious attacks on innocent bystanders.

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Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the Christian Right champion whose career became mired in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal of 2007, could have a new threat from his right flank. Bob Lang, a 64-year old Vietnam veteran, has announced his candidacy as a conservative independent, the Ouachita Citizen reports:

"This country, in my opinion, is on the verge of a financial calamity and changing from a constitutional republic to a socialist/communist form of government. If the United States Congress and president continue to spend in such an insane manner and borrow at least half of everything we spend, that will be a guaranteed recipe for national suicide and nation failure."


Keep in mind that Louisiana is no longer using its runoff election system at the federal level, so right-wing protest votes could potentially do damage to the GOP.

"From what I've been hearing from people, I think I've got a chance at this deal, I really do," Lang told TPM. When asked whether he's met conservatives who say they don't like Vitter, Lang replied: "I'm meeting a lot of people, conservative voters, that are dissatisfied with the present representation."

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)--one of six Finance Committee members writing that panel's health care reform bill--has been leading the charge for creating a system of regional private health care co-operatives instead of a public option. All along, he's said that he supports the co-ops because a public option doesn't have the votes.

But what he's mostly elided is the fact that he himself would vote against a bill that called for a public option.

That's what he told a crowd of about 100 in North Dakota today.

Of course, there's still a question of whether he'd support a filibuster of a health care bill with a public option. But in case it wasn't obvious before, his position has probably had more to do with his ideological opposition to the public option than with a dispassionate analysis of Senate politics.

Conrad also said he'll oppose a health care bill that provides government funds for abortion, or care for illegal immigrants.

Via Firedoglake.

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